2020-2021, Photo Collages


"In her most recent photo series Self-Portrait In The Studio, Elisabeth Smolarz echoes the symbolism of Renaissance painting in a series of still-life portraits alluding to pregnancy and birth. During the course of the day of her labor induction, Smolarz took a series of still-life self-portraits reflecting on her body's nine months of gestation, represented by her pregnant belly, her photographic work, and her practice of self-care in preparation for motherhood. Reflecting on the centuries-long male depiction of pregnant women by turning her gaze on her own body, the artist inserts symbolic hand gestures, ripened fruits, jewelry, and corals into her photographic compositions. Her cameras, fruits, crystals, and grandma plants became symbols of maternity and creativity of this period in her life. Smolarz completed the series after having given birth, and while contending with the challenges of postpartum depression. From this new vantage point, Smolarz began deconstructing the self-portraits to break through the societal fixed identity of an artist-mother into a less defined self. The mixed-media installation consisting of collages, videos, and objects reflects the chaos and crisis of the first months of motherhood while amplifying the fertile creativity of this period."


—Sarah Crown, Curator