"Penumbra" by Photographer TJ Deaver at Medici Gallery

T.J. Deaver
T.J. Deaver

"Penumbra" by Photographer TJ Deaver at Medici Gallery

calendar icon30 Apr 2014    

"Penumbra," a series of self-portraits created by BFA Senior and Photographer T.J. Deaver that engages the personal and cultural struggles of identifying as a LGBQT youth in modern America, is on display this week at the Department of Art and Art History's MEDICI Gallery, located on the first floor of Richards Hall.

The exhibition will have a closing reception on Friday, May 2 from 5-7 p.m. The reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.

The exhibition reimagines the repressed, violent realities of hiding in the shadows of heteronormative gender identities.

By definition, "penumbra" is the slightly illuminated space between the true darkness of a shadow and the area of absolute light. The photographs deal with eclipsing the internalized pain that many youths cannot express. Accompanied by handwritten testimonies, the photographs create a visually jarring narrative. "Penumbra" doesn't just reconcile darkness and light; it's also the artist's way of exploring the negative space.

The darkness in "Penumbra," Deaver said, is the startling depiction of violence and hate that are provoked both by society and self.

"Photographs are often representations of events as they have happened," Deaver said. "My work makes real what is not seen."

The emotional scars—like images captured by photography—are lasting, he says.

The use of self-portraiture reflects an urgency of the art to express this collective experience. The artist inserts himself into these narratives to reflect his personal struggles with sexuality and to reinforce the universal difficulty of establishing an identity. The artist is subject to his own reactions to the stories, he said, but finds himself deeply rooted in their myths and resolutions. Thus, the artist becomes the medium onto which these stories are portrayed, giving them meaning, voice and representation.

Deaver recently received the Elgas Grant for the series "Penumbra" and has recently published the series as a photography book.