Affect 15: Cindy Sherman


affect new cindy sherman 12x12 revised w“Cindy Sherman used to say that her portraits were not a part of her (though they are photos she takes of herself that she composes).  In a recent LA Times article by Deborah Vankin, Sherman says that she’s more present in her recent works.  She says she used to hide in her characters, but now, “’I’m like one of them.’”

I think Sherman’s initial desire to separate herself from her work is because she identified as an actor.  She wanted to disappear in the role.

Although I’ve lost myself in some of her art, I’ve never lost her.  I can tell that it’s her art.  When she dresses up like different people, those people exist in her conception.  Her synthesis and construction.

I’ve thought about Cindy Sherman on my journey as an artist.

In the intro to her book Film Stills (1983), she writes that she moved from painting to photography because photography was faster.  She didn’t need to paint the context she’d composed.  The photo sufficed.

I keep that idea as a bit of a mantra when publishing photos.  I still keep in my head that I might draw them one day.  The visual narrative I want to represent develops faster than paint dries or documents load.  I’d rather attempt my ideas than keep them as half started and stagnant, hidden on To Do lists.

Though I have those.

Ironically, in the past few months, I’m playing with painting.  I’m not sure if it takes longer.

I like that my canvases are bigger than my computer screen.  Sherman’s photo sets were larger than her lenses.

I suppose they do include even more of me than digital art.  The paintings are based on photographs, so the brush creates more             distance from the       subject, and moves it into the palm of my hand.

How am I not my selfie?   How are you not my selfie?”


Today I’m going with my mom to see the Cindy Sherman exhibition “Imitations of Life” at The Broad in Los Angeles!  I’m beyond excited.  I’ve never seen a solo show of hers, though I’ve been following her career since I first learned about her about ten years ago in a high school Art History class.  (I think that’s when I first saw her work…)

I dreamed of going to her exhibit at the MOMA in New York a few years ago.  There’s a cool This American Life episode that talks about a weird encounter at her show.  Ira Glass talks with her in Act I.

I like her often voyeuristic lens, even when the subjects are in public places.  I find the portraits reveal a fragility in her portrayals of female tropes.  Like the women she depicts are alive and lost or determined or… beneath their skin.  Like they’re wearing masks or getting used to their costumes.


I titled my first solo exhibition “City Stills” (2012) hailing her book, Untitled Film Stills: 1977-1980.  Here’s a flyer I made for the event.  It features a 16″ x 20″ digital drawing I made called, “Woman at Downtown LA Art Walk”.  [Read the post about it here.]

art card 4x6 vanessa art new

When I was working on a “drawing a day” project in 2012, I drew her photo “#12 1978” for the prompt, “Draw a favorite character from a book“.  [Read that post here.]cindy sherman 8x10 web

In my 2013 zine called, “Windows: A Story Told Through Windows, Frames, and Screens“, I drew the protagonists peering into the frame at the woman and the windows in Sherman’s “Untitled film still 58, (1980)”.  [Read the post here.]


Here’s a mashup of my drawings for today’s Affect and my drawing of “#12, 1978”.

affect cindy sherman cover 85x11 w

You Can Find Me…

Facebook: @LornaAlkanaArt and @LAWordSalon and @AffectComic
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I update my Exhibition Page with events and galleries Lorna Alkana Art is featured in.

I post twice a week in two sorts of ways:  Around Monday I share new art/discussion about the process of works in progress.  Around Friday I post segments with Comic Lorna in my audiobio comic series called, Affect.

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