Ah! An update on a bit of the work that I’ve been doing in college!
Long story short, I am having the most incredible learning experience living away from home. At art school, makeup is never far from my thoughts and I really enjoy every project that gives me the opportunity to be able to get in touch with what drew me to transformation and costume in the first place.
Makeup really lives in this exciting ambiguous place between the second, third, and “fourth” dimesion – in applying makeup, we are working with primarily 2d materials, powders and pigments, to navigate the 3d plane of the face and body. Not only that, but every face is different and naturally occurring, making each look unique on a different person, both in aesthetics and meaning. If you consider your choice of face as a found material, you can also consider the way that face moves and the person behind it – what is their role and purpose for wearing it? The last thing that makes makeup so interesting is that it is temporary. This means that it shape-shifts with the occasion and then washes off, and you start over (even if you are using products with excellent staying power! haha!)
Back when I would update regularly, I remember discovering that this blog didn’t really attract attention because of the reviews, but mostly because of the zanier, “unwearable” looks I began creating. Frankly, this kind of confused me because I saw these looks as an alternative to doing what I considered to be serious art. I didn’t really get why anybody besides me would be fascinated by my personal creations on my personal, not-model face. To me, tutorials for strange looks were frivolous, useless, and not even that great by my standard. I had no intention of becoming a makeup artist and I simply did these looks because they were fun, and as an added bonus I could share them and get a little attention. I don’t know how to fully express the extent to which I just could not see what other people saw in it. It felt wrong for me to continue creating for an audience that I didn’t understand or respect. That is the reason why I stopped.
Back then, I don’t think I ever fully grasped what was so obvious: people are interested as makeup as a process, broken down, step by step, so that they can observe personal transformation as art form. People aren’t superficial or stupid for being interested by makeup. They like it because it truly is fascinating. It is process, it is performance, it is art, it is personal – all of these things and still extremely accessible. Or maybe extremely accessible because of all of these things. We all have identities, we all have a certain amount of control over them. Makeup is an overt expression or visual metaphor for the choices we have in constructing these identities.
That said, even through my transition from high school to college, I wanted to preserve this blog because like any sort of historical record, I saw it operating as sort of a living and breathing witness to change. Back then, I was frequently encouraged to pursue makeup as a career. I couldn’t explain it back then, but I knew that even if I was talented, the truth was that I lacked the actual passion and respect for the medium that other guys and gals just have naturally. I decided not to return to makeup or this blog without that respect.
That said, I am grateful for the privilege to share my explorations in sculpture, painting, costume, and makeup with both new readers and whoever happens to be here still. Take a look!
For this piece, I transformed into a bride. I wanted to dissect one prominent expectation of identity shift I have for my own life and accept it as something perhaps more complex than the image I’ve constructed in my head. Not only did I want to accept it as something I may not really understand now, but also something that might be too complex to fully understand when I truly do go through it.
Although themes of virginity and objectification are at the forefront of any exploration of wedding veils and customs, I was more interested in the relationship between the history of the bridal headdress and evil. The Western bridal veil was originally introduced during the Roman Empire to to shield the bride from demons before she was wed. In traditional Japanese Shinto ceremonies, a headdress called tsunokakushi is often worn, which symbolically hides the bride’s “horns of jealousy” and otherwise egotistical and negative behaviors. It symbolizes a commitment to a new role of higher responsibility and obedience. The other main type of Japanese headdress is called wataboshi, and is constructed with the concept of shielding the bride’s face from everyone but the groom directly infront of her.
This historical research brought up a clear play between the internal vs. external psychology of evil, so I wanted that to come through in the work by creating headpiece with 2 parts: one that shields (the external hood), but also conceals the inner piece (the symbolically sinister horns). The horns can be sensed by their structure beneath the veil from the sides, but are only visible from the frontal view. The design for the two pieces is a synthesis of both wataboshi and tsunokakushi, so the effect of traditional Japanese bridal wear is preserved in overall ensemble.