Life can be rough; there are good days and bad ones. We all have our own personal battles, but how often are we open and transparent about them? This is an important question for me, especially as a faith-based artist.
When I am transparent with myself and others, I see more clearly the most authentic self I can possibly be. I tend to bury my emotions; I bury them so far down that it’s difficult to bring to the surface. And I believe by bringing these struggles to the surface, one can achieve a great sense of revelation and understanding that wouldn’t be possible by keeping things buried down inside.
Through the many variables of film exposure, film development, print processing, negative scanning, and added marks on the prints, the multi-layered process mirrors the many layers of myself that I often bury down. My work often shows me and teaches me to be more open & vulnerable. In my work, one might see that I'm trying to visualize what certain emotions or mental states look like to me.
I offer here a few glimpses of my own personal struggle and lowest moments. But to be clear, the subject is not the figure in the image, it’s what you feel when you look at them; what emotions or experiences it triggers. When I look at these images, I'm reminded of some of those bad days from my past, but they’ve taught me so much.
These photographs were formed out of painful and frustrating psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual struggles. They represent my attempt at making those internal realities visual ones. They serve as a reminder to me that I was not alone on those good and bad days-- even though it looked and felt that way at the time. The images display a divine aura, sometimes haloed or outlined with white lines to augment its presence.
I hope that my vulnerability in making and presenting these images might encourage a certain transparency and freedom to any who may feel alone on bad days, or joyous on the good ones.
I really saw a connection to verse 12... “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
As you can see in this long exposure image, the head seems to be disappearing, which relates to many experiences we have as humans but also as followers of Christ. Experiences such as what I was going through at the time this photo was snapped. I was at a place in life where I felt disconnected from God. Feelings of confusion and desperation consumed me. The head is tilted back in a position, much like what I had been doing frequently- looking up to God, pleading for answers when I didn’t have any. Hence the title of this photo “look up child”.
BUT that’s not the overall meaning of this photo. It wasn’t until after I processed the film images, and printed them on a larger scale, that I noticed something was missing. These images before the lines were added looked as if the Holy Spirit was absent during the hard times I was trying to portray, but then I could see that is not true. The images spoke to me, screaming the Holy Spirit most definitely was there. In this image you are able to see a visual of the aura that we have around us at all times.
With that being said, the lines represent the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives during dark or confusing times... our fight is often an invisible one (that’s what I’m trying to make seen through these images) but the spirit is always there with us and fights for us at all times. (And that’s what I aim to prove)
Sophie Saint Firmin
Original, film negative scan with digital painting, jpeg image, printable to many sizes, $600, email for purchases: email@example.com
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