by Maureen Fitzmahan

I believe that every piece of art is a ‘self-portrait.’  In my best work, I say a lot about myself.  I can’t help myself.  I tell you what makes me laugh. Or cry.  I hide somewhere in that image a mote of aggravation.  I let you know how inadequate I feel.  I scatter metaphysical musings.  Sometimes I purposely share who I am. Many times Maureen is hidden somewhere in my photo.  Sometimes my secrets seep out subconsciously.  My colleagues and family sometimes see ‘me’ in my work, and I am indebted to them when they tell me who they see.

It is humbling.  An artist needs to be vulnerable.  And very courageous.

In the next salon, we challenge you to intentionally create a self-portrait.

Last Fall (2017), the Art Junketeers went to SFMOMA and saw the exhibit of Edvard Munch’s paintings, “Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed.” The museum dedicated a whole room to years of his self-portraits. It was a pictorial tour of Edvard Munch’s journey through art.  After seeing this panoply of Munch on Munch, I asked myself, was “The Scream” (the one piece that was NOT at this exhibit) just another very revealing self-portrait of Mr. Munch?

It is nice of Mr. Munch that he actually stopped to tell me what inspired him to paint that funky, yet a chalk-screeching image. In 1885, he wrote in his diary, “I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous infinite scream of nature.” (The Private Journals of Edvard Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth.)

Hmmmm.  What was nature screaming about?  And how did Munch know what she was thinking?

Edvard Munch, “Self-Portrait. Between the Clock and the Bed” (1940–43), oil on canvas, 58 7/8 x 47 7/16 in. (photo courtesy the Munch Museum, Oslo)


This isn’t the first time we’ve been brave enough to make self-portraits.  In 2015, The Art Junket exhibited self-portraits of the Art Junketeers at the end of our first year.  You are welcome to read the challenges that we experienced while trying to create our first self-portraits.  I wrote on why artists take on such a challenge with my post “Why do artists make self-portraits?” Erin wrote: Hacking the Self Portrait: The Many Selves.” and “Hacking the Self Portrait: Identity in Flux.” Katie Strange wrote, “The Self Portrait: What does my face look like?” and “The Self Portrait: My Giant Canvas…Paralyzing Thoughts.”

You can see the 2015 self-portraits at Salon 1- Self Portraits.