To me, identity is the sum of my existence. It is my taste in music, my taste in art, and my preference for certain foods. It is my mannerisms, my beliefs, my decisions and various quirks and idiosyncrasies I am not even aware of. I find it stunning to think of how deep identity reaches. It’s even more remarkable to find how it influences everything about my life, even beyond my perception.
I see it every time I take a photo, and find it reveals something I never particularly thought about myself. I look back on my life and I see the influence of my self-image on decisions. In fact, I find I discover more about myself in hindsight than when consciously thinking about myself.
Though I consider almost anything about myself as part of my identity, there are aspects of my life and personality I consider more important than others. It is likely this opinion about myself is also reflective of my identity as much as the components of the opinion.
My recent self-portrait work has been revelatory and has led me to consider the true reach of identity, and how it applies to those around me. It has also helped me consider the identities of others, and what those pieces of a whole mean to them, and how all of this mixes together as a whole. It's interesting and frightening to think how intersecting perceptions and identities can raise someone up or destroy them.
I like to think my identity is a collection of things I’m mostly in control of, but it also is influenced by where I am, when I was born and the circumstances I’ve lived through. I don’t know what I would be if I were born elsewhere, or had a more difficult childhood. I don’t know who I would be if I were rich, or even if I had not gotten or quit a certain job at any point in my life.
It is that consideration that I try to remember as I empathize with others, and try to understand them. I find empathy important not only to my creation of art, but I also find it important in life.