Sense of Self


Self-portraiture is such a difficult task that few artists regularly undertake it. After all, how to disconnect the id and release any sort of unguarded truth when the subject matter is one’s very own complicated self?

The challenge has got to be tougher for teens, young people who are still wrassling out the particulars of who they are now and who they might be some day. But teens are resilient, and, in the case of the wonder kids who are in Santa Rosa High School’s ArtQuest program, they’re also terrifically honest, terrifically smart and terrifically plain old talented.

This is our second year working with ArtQuest, under the direction of Tanya Braunstein and Glen Graves. This year, we asked the students to explore the self-portrait from three angles: their physical self, the person they are at home and their public persona. Drawing from the results of these three revealing chapters, we chose one shot from each artist to reproduce in these pages.

I am personally amazed at the honesty expressed by these young artists. I jokingly suggested that if I had to take a self-portrait, I’d just shoot the contents of my purse. Would I actually dare to print an image depicting my slovenly habits and insane need for extra lipsticks? No way. These kids are far braver than I’ll ever be.

All of the shots taken and approved, plus the ones reprinted here, will be on exhibition at the Santa Rosa High School multipurpose room through Dec. 20. A free artist’s reception kicks off on Wednesday, Dec. 19, from 3pm to 5pm. 1235 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa.

We applaud the artistry and hard work of this year’s crop of ArtQuest kids. Bravo!

Hannah Bowen: Hannah took this unvarnished shot of herself just after waking up one morning.

Ashley Franklin: Ashley’s shot from the inside of her car reveals roads traveled and roads yet to take.

Abby Campbell: To us, Abhy’s shot evokes the poems of Sylvia Plath. No, there is no concrete reason why. This was a cover contender.

Joseph Zappelli: Joseph calls this his ‘Italian GQ’ shot. It’s irresistible, but so is the moody, refracted image he took through the doorway into his bedroom that we wish we had room to also print. This was another cover contender.

Melanie Hede: Melanie took on a gothic mood for ‘Storm,’ which depicts her favorite abandoned water tower.

Elizabeth Randol: Put a favorite Belgian waffle iron in a white cast iron sink, and voila!

Claire Sloan: Claire elegantly juxtaposes her grown-up size with the baby chair given to her as a child.

Alex Molinari: Alex is a ‘Boho’ photo veteran, having been part of our first annual. He is also one of a trio of celebrated kids who would have made $53k in the stock market this fall had they been using real dosh.

Connor Lawson: Connor caught the light and the reflection of the landscape while having the composure to pose with enormous thought.

Chloe Minervini: Chloe calls this ‘Closer’ and it was a difficult pick. She also produced stunning shots of her parents, her cosmetic basket and herself playing the piano.

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