Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Hate Carnations

For todays blog post, I wanted to tell you about a well-know (and yet horrifyingly little-known to me) photographer, Cindy Sherman.

"By turning the camera on herself, Cindy Sherman has built a name as one of the most respected photographers of the late twentieth century. Although, the majority of her photographs are pictures of her, however, these photographs are most definitely not self-portraits. Rather, Sherman uses herself as a vehicle for commentary on a variety of issues of the modern world: the role of the woman, the role of the artist and many more. It is through these ambiguous and eclectic photographs that Sherman has developed a distinct signature style. Through a number of different series of works, Sherman has raised challenging and important questions about the role and representation of women in society, the media and the nature of the creation of art." (

In my Women, Art and Society class at Plymouth State, my friend Olivia Nelson (fellow art student and fantastic writer) took one of Sherman's compelling photographs (below) and wrote her version of the story behind the image:

It was August and the sun ws hot on the roof of the Saltbox house that Gloria had spent half the day in, boiling the meat off chicken thighs. Dust rolled in the window over the kitchen sink and the familiar sound of the pick-up pulling up the driveway filled the air. Licking sweat from her upper lip, Gloria looked out on Phil grabbing his battered briefcase from the bed. She smoothed her skirt and picked up plates. She prepared the table for dinner, as she had every day for the past thirteen months. Everything was as it was, unfailingly, every evening at roughly 6:30. The sturdy clopping of men's shoes on wooden steps and he was there in the doorway with peach carnations wrapped in plastic from the supermarket. Gloria smiled as Pete handed them to her and set his briefcase at her feet.

“It's hot in here,” he said as he tugged at the neck of his tie with his forefinger, “What's for dinner?”

“Chicken and rice. There's pie in the icebox, if you like.”

“From last night?”

She nodded.

“No, it was a one time thing. Definitely not a 'do again'.” He sat at the table and she spooned his meal onto the plate in front of him. He grunted with approval and she went to find a vase. She settled on a mason jar and put the carnations in between them on the table. She peered through the peach petals as he chewed and occasionally picked his teeth, waiting. He looked up and saw her watching him through the flowers and raised his eyebrows in an bored questioning look.

“I got my period today.” His normally expressionless face briefly clouded with a mixture of annoyance, disappointment, and frustration. He sighed and shook his head, still shoveling the remains of rice and flaky chicken into his mouth. He picked up a bone and leaned on his elbow, sucking the bits of flesh clinging to it and looking at her.

“Well, what'd you do? How many times has this been?” His tone was even and betrayed no emotion.

“I haven't done a thing. I did what the doctor said.” He shrugged and let the bone clatter to his plate.

“ Well, that biological clock don't stop tickin'. I'll be upstairs waiting once you cleaned up down here.” He scraped his chair back and took off his overcoat, dangled it on his finger over his shoulder, relaxed the finger and let the coat fall to the floor behind him in front of the doorway to the stairs.

Gloria sat in relative silence as the shoes clopped up the stairs. She put her hand out and rubbed a petal between her fingers and narrowing her eyes at the deceptive flowers. She got up and took the overcoat off the floor, brought it to the coat hook. She dusted her hands on her apron and looked back at the door he'd left from.

“I hate carnations.”

Check out Olivia's blog

Want to learn more about Cindy Sherman?

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