Swollen

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Before And After: Breast Enlargement Surgery Before And After: Wedding Before And After: Child Birth Before And After: Sex Reassignment Surgery Before And After: She Can Call Herself A Woman Before And After: Puberty Before And After: Another Year Before And After: Menopause

July 2007 at the Littman Gallery, Portland, Oregon.

 

Painted portraiture and the scientific method may be unlikely bedfellows, but it is by combining these approaches that, in the space of a year, I’ve discovered what it means to be a woman.

Conjecturing that womanhood originates in physical changes, I gathered seven test subjects for study. Their transitions ranged from puberty and pregnancy to marriage and menopause, but also embraced modern gender surgeries like breast enlargement and male-to-female sex reassignment. I painted one “before” portrait of each of the test subjects and, a year later, when their transitions were complete, followed up with an “after” portrait.

Scrupulously observing the scientific method, I also painted “before” and “after” portraits of one subject who would not experience a major physical change during the year’s interval: I painted myself. I became the control subject for my own experiment, and, in one of those delicious moments of unexpected synthesis, learned what scientists have known for years. It all comes down to asking the right question.


To learn more about the making of this series, please visit this article on my blog.



Portland artist Gwenn Seemel with Michelle Cheney, photo by Stephanie Yao

photo by Stephanie Yao


Although her portraits might be of other people, stare at them long enough and you’ll find they have an interesting way of becoming as much about...her own hunger to understand the world.

     — - Inara Verzemnieks, The Oregonian, July 2007 -- - full story




[The subject] is eager to see how Swollen captures her interior and exterior changes. Regardless of what she thinks about the finished product, Seemel hopes for a strong reaction.

     — - Jim Radosta, Just Out, July 2007 -- - full story


Seemel is more than a painter of portraits, she is an explorer of life’s greatest questions armed with acrylics on canvas.

     — - Vanessa Nix, PDX Magazine, July 2007 -- - full story