“Selfie” was first recognized as a word in 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries, defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically taken with a smartphone and shared via social media.”
In fact, Oxford crowned “selfie” word of the year in 2013 because its use, according to their research, had increased by 17,000 percent from 2012 to 2013.
I would venture to guess every one of us has taken a selfie. Imagine, however, trying to take a selfie without a phone or camera. How would you do it?
This is exactly what the artists at Brush Strokes Gallery in Fredericksburg decided to explore with “Selfies,” on display through February.
At least 12 member artists took on the challenge and have works in the show.
“I was like, what am I going to do with this?” said Merian Stevens when she heard of the theme. Stevens, born in Brazil, had a business and management career in New England and is now an artist in Spotsylvania County.
Eventually she concluded, “I’m going to portray my soul.”
Stevens’ “Selfie” became a fiery phoenix, spanning a silky, black background in vibrant, natural, acrylic pigments.
“Isn’t that beautiful?” she asked. (And it is!)
“I have been back from the ashes so many times,” Stevens said. “I hope this can inspire others to pick up all the pieces of your dreams and keep going!”
Fredericksburg artist Peggy Wickham said her first reaction to the theme was, “Oh, no!”
But she, too, ended up really enjoying the project.
“Seeing the artwork of others really has helped expand my own creativity,” Wickham said. “It just has given me this incredible freedom.”
Wickham’s “Selfie” actually does include a photograph of herself—but a photograph taken when she was in third grade, dressed in a nautical-themed dress. Even back then, she loved the ocean.
Her passion for the ocean is apparent in everything surrounding this young photograph, designed with a variety of mixed media. “I was happy with how it turned out,” Wickham said.
Norma Woodward, an artist who has lived in Fredericksburg for 50 years, is a professional photographer. The “Selfie” project was a unique challenge for her.
“How do I use a photo, but not have it turn out like an actual selfie?” she said.
In Woodward’s case, the result has a pop-art feel, with repeating black-and-white photographs, layered and with color added.
“It’s not just a picture of Norma,” Woodward said. “It represents a lot of interests in my life.”
“Art is inspirational, it uncovers your gifts,” Stevens said. “Come to the show and see!”