I have always enjoyed the company of books & their characters all throughout my life. Growing up, we struggle to find our true selves. & sometimes, we are unable to relate to the “real” people around us. We feel isolated because of our mental illnesses & / or abusive environments. Everyone else seems so normal, unrelatable, & unreachable.
But in literature, you can find representation; you can find experiences that eerily mirror your own; character traits that remind you of yourself; & life lessons that can actually apply, not the empty “it gets better” words of encouragement from elders & peers. You can take these words, these truths, to heart. & as dark as it sounds, you can keep living.
With this project, I wanted to revisit four key literary figures from my childhood: Violet Baudelaire, from A Series of Unfortunate Events; Billy Bibbit, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Esther Greenwood, from The Bell Jar; & Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in the Rye.
Unlike other self-portrait projects others have created, these are not just me adopting tropes or traits I both identify & empathize with these characters; they are not just costumes, or even two-dimensional figures only in text. They are me, & yet they are obviously not me. But more importantly, they have helped me through my childhood & my continued struggle to accept myself, or more accurately, my brain.