3 Brave and Beautiful Photographs by
Haley Morris-Cafiero

Posted on: April 27th, 2013 by Jane Maxwell No Comments

I am in awe of the bravery of Haley Morris-Cafiero’s series, Wait Watchers. She captures public moments of people staring at her while she poses for a picture. In her words “I have always been aware of people making faces, commenting and laughing at me about my size. I now reverse the gaze and record their reactions to me while I perform mundane tasks in public spaces.” These images are compelling, real and raw. They are a lesson for me in authenticity and bravery.



Posted on: April 24th, 2013 by Jane Maxwell No Comments

Three. It’s a number that consistently arises in my life. In my studio, I work on three canvas’ at a time. Three silhouettes are often featured in my work. I tend to cluster collections of 3 items around my home. I even have 3 kids (and I’m 1 of 3). It’s not intentional – I just gravitate to 3. I feel comfortable in it’s asymmetry. I’m intrigued by both it’s inclusiveness (3 like things) and it’s exclusivity (think tension of “three’s a crowd”). It’s comfortably odd. And manageable in size. I guess if there were such a thing as a creative number – 3 would be mine. So, I begin here to explore things that inspire and intrigue me – in groups of 3.

I start with one of my favorite all time books on the subject of food and body image, Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp. So sadly Knapp passed away from lung cancer in 2002. This book was published poshumously in 2003, but is, to this day, my favorite of the genre. Here are three quotes dogeared in my book.

q “This, of course, is one of appetite’s insidious golden rules: The more you meddle with hunger, the more taboo and confusing it will become. Feed the body too little and then too much, feed it erratically, launch that maddening cycle of deprivation and overcompensation, and the sensation of physical hunger itself becomes divorced from the body, food loaded with alternative meanings: symbol of longing, symbol of constraint, form of torture, form of reward, source of anxiety, source of succor, measure of self-worth. And thus the simple experience of hunger–of wanting something to eat–becomes frightening and fraught.”

w “So it persists, for many of us, hunger channeled into some internal circuitry of longing, routed this way and that, emerging in a thousand different forms. The diet form, the romance form, the addiction form, the overriding hunger for this purchase or that job, this relationship or that one. Hunger may be insatiable by nature, it may be fathomless, but our will to fill it, our often blind tenacity in the face of it, can be extraordinary.”

e “One of the lingering cultural myths about gender is that women are bad at math. I’d challenge the myth on these grounds: Women are actually superb at math; they just happen to engage in their own variety of it, an intricate personal math in which desires are split off from one another, weighed, balanced, traded, assessed. These are the mathematics of desire, a system of self-limitation and monitoring based on the fundamental premise that appetites are at best risky, at worst impermissible, that indulgence must be bought and paid for. Hence the rules and caveats: Before you open the lunch menu or order that cheeseburger or consider eating the cake with the frosting intact, haul out the psychic calculator and start tinkering with the budget.”

My first blog. Scary.

Posted on: April 11th, 2013 by Jane Maxwell No Comments

I wish starting a blog was as easy as starting a new piece of art. They’re seemingly similar in so many ways. Blank screen. Blank canvas. Ideas of what to write. An art concept ready to roll. And, in both cases, the desire to articulate something interesting and true. And, yet while I find starting a piece of art exhilarating and filled with potential, I find the idea of writing my first blog daunting. I could say it’s because life is complicated and time is short. Or, that I’ve been putting all my creative energy into building art, so there’s no innovation left. But, the truth is, it’s fear. Fear of starting something new. Fear of overt self promotion. Fear of being profoundly uninteresting. So, that is at the root of why it has taken me literally years to start writing a blog. But, here I am. Scared shitless, putting fingers to keyboard. And, thinking back to a time when it wasn’t all that fun starting a piece of art. When I first started building collages, I was wracked with fear that I would make something that looked shallow or silly. Or worse, that I’d put my heart and soul into a piece and people would see right through the work to my damaged soul. When I first began focusing solely on women and body image (or more honestly, focusing on my own body obsession) I would shamefully hide my weight watcher logs deep into the layers of a piece. I knew I wanted it in there to stand as a symbol of my struggle. Yet, I felt so much fear that family and friends might find it and know that a) I went to weight watchers and b) that I failed miserably at it again and again (you go to weight watchers and you still look like that?) Fast forward 15 years and the fear is still there. It has just morphed. I no longer fear starting a piece 96 that has become pure exhilaration and promise. It’s finishing the piece and launching it into the world that’s scary. But, not quite as scary as starting this journey of writing about – well, I’m not quite sure yet. And, that alone makes me anxious. I like a plan, a purpose, a goal. So, I sign off from this, my first blog, and hope that in time, the fear will lessen, and like starting a piece of art – I will begin to anticipate some semblance of fun and freedom in putting into writing something that someone may find interesting.