Self Portrait as the registered sex offenders living in a particular zip code
September Eleventh had a dramatic effect on privacy laws. We became more vulnerable to overzealous law enforcement investigations and to private companies marketing their goods to us.
Concerned about such changes, I decided to try on the identities of some people who I had least in common with, the online residents of the National Sex Offender Registry, by painting their portraits. Wanting to raise awareness about the value of anonymity I discovered a powerful question. Are we safer because someone else is not?
Painting these men was creepy. They were sad looking and had committed sexually predatory crimes such as visiting prostitutes and worse. I recast these characters turning their faces into masks and placing my sanguinely feminine eyes within their images.
Sex Offenders, for obvious reasons inspire little empathy. Reacting to the paintings, my viewers carried out many conversations about who gets registered, how the registry functions, and the changes to our safety by having them registered.
While I have no sympathy for the crimes committed, I am weary of scarlet letter systems. Are we really safer, or do we just think we are safer?