Christine Triebert: Through a Glass Dimly
"Through a Glass Dimly" is a phrase attributed to both Plato and St. Paul. It expresses the idea that as humans our understanding of life in this realm is clouded and partly obscured – as if we're looking at a incomplete reflection in a mirror. The phrase is also aptly named as the title of this portrait project in which I'm capturing images of individuals as seen through a selectively blurring photographic lens.
In the shooting sessions, I chose not to focus on the ways we typically view ourselves and others – ideas of self based on one's occupation, reputation, or possessions. Instead, I asked each person to undress completely and wrap him or herself in a white sheet, so as to strip away the external coverings we usually identify ourselves by. The white sheet symbolizes the commonality of our human experience. It is reminiscent of the blanket we're swaddled in at birth and the burial cloth we're wrapped in at death. By donning the same covering, the portrait subjects are presented in a visually unified way, yet each person's unique manifestation and expressiveness shines through. My intention with each image is to portray an essential quality of being of the individual self. As a whole body of work, they are suggestive of seeing all people as "spiritual beings having a human experience."
The photographs are made with areas of deliberate soft focus and blurring, and are digitally layered over with surface textures to add a further obscuring of the image. The prints are made on sheets of coated aluminum, referencing the "glass" of polished metal that ancient people used for mirrors, and completing the idea that we see ourselves as through a dim reflection – obscured, yet unique.
- Christine Triebert
Thanks to so many who helped bring this project into being.
To all the wonderful models – the neighbors, friends, and colleagues who ventured into my studio in South Newfane and willingly bore themselves before my camera: Becca Nestor, Meg McCarthy, Carol Ross, Leonard Ragouzeos, Paul Bowen, Mamadou Cisse, Dan DeWalt, Liz LaVorgna, Loretta Palazzo, Judy Harrigan, Lena Glickman, Tom Goldschmid, Deb Feiner, Fred Homer, Cooper Feiner-Homer, Kestrel Feiner-Homer, Karen Kamenetsky, Susan Dedell, Mustaqeem Siddiqui, and Petey Mitchell.
To the suppliers who helped with everything I needed to make the finished product: Kenny at Brattleboro Sheet Metal, John at Zephyr Design, Clark of Clark Todd Carpentry, and Gary at WW Hardware.
To my photo-friend, Joanie O'Beirne, for her technical support in the murky waters of alternative digital printmaking. And to my amazing partner, Carol Ross, for the countless details behind the scenes that she always does on all my projects... this time with a cast on her right hand.
And to Dr. Robert Jonas of The Empty Bell meditation center in Northampton for his beautiful teaching on the late Henri Nouwen, which led to the inspiration of this work.