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The final project for FAH-481A Art of the Selfie: Self Portraits – A Critical Inquiry allows students to research many aspects of self-portraiture. While some write about the impact of selfies on self-esteem and narcissism, others present insightful studies about self portraits by Sofonisba Anguissola, Caravaggio, Vincent van Gogh, and Flora Borsi.

For his paper, Kieran Sommer ’20 wrote about the self portraits created by Vivian Maier. Dubbed the “Nanny Photographer,” Maier’s works were only recently unearthed from storage sites, developed and printed, and exhibited. As a part of his experience, Sommer and his family decided to mirror some of Maier’s work as they recorded their experiences in 2020.

He wrote, “Looking especially at Vivian’s self-photographs in the windows of buildings, it reminds me of what society is going through today. Through all of the social distancing and self-quarantine, we are behind walls and restricted to our own living spaces. My family and I had the opportunity to take pictures of ourselves inside our house with the photographer being outside. It gave my mother the great idea when I had told her about my paper topic to include this. I definitely do see the similarity and when I think about Vivian taking the same pictures 70 years ago, she was so far ahead of the times she was living in. (Above) is a picture of my family and I inside our house playing cards in black and white in 2020 (Figure 9) and next to it is an image that is similar in structure that Vivian took of two women inside a waiting room in 1954 (Figure 10).”

Submitted by: Yvonne Widenor, visiting assistant professor and program director, Art History Program, Fine Arts Department