Ciarra K. Walters: ‘The Self-Portrait Series’
How can art enliven, embolden or even heal its artist and audience? Many forms of art have served as a way for individuals to find comfort and validation in politically strenuous times. In presenting Ciarra K. Walters first New York Solo-Exhibition, a collection of twenty-five black and white photographs on film, each piece explores the violence done upon the female body and how that body is transformed into an expressive tool while serving as a guide towards healing after rape.
This series is Walters second wave of healing after her rape in 2013. Traveling to over 16 locations throughout Southern California, she captures the release of her trauma taking viewers through a journey of healing and rebirth while exploring the ways in which the body of women are realized, negotiated, disregarded and disrespected. Walters work recognizes and articulates the parallels of violence against the bodies of women and nature and indicates that the two are not simply metaphorical. Because women have been labeled as closer to nature due to our our reproductive abilities, closer to nature Walters becomes. A major overarching theme is escape and healing. Not only does nature serve as an escape from patriarchy in general within the arts, but more specifically, it is an escape from the male gaze and from sexual violence. Whereas industrialized society is susceptible to male gaze, and is a space where women constantly feel objectified and commodified, nature, a feminine utopia for Walters, has become her refuge, the art itself transforms itself into a mode of healing. What makes Walters and women artist work radically different is the focus not on the action or drama but on the lasting psychological devastation of the victim: her suffering, silence, shame, loneliness and regaining back her control. The work is essentially teaching Walters who she is and her capabilities within her new reality.