SELF 2000

A Millennial Exploration in Daily Self-Portraits

It was 1999, soon to be 2000. How many people get to live across two millennia? This seemed so auspicious that I wanted to do something extraordinary.

A young mom with two toddlers, and an artist desperate to have more time in my studio, I came across an old sketchbook from 1980, a visual diary of daily self-portraits. In it I had drawn my thoughts, moods, ideas and emotions, the way people keep written journals. It seemed the perfect project to redo in 2000; to look within, question old habits, and explore new ways of thinking about something so familiar - my self.


Here was a chance to be focused and disciplined, but also spontaneous and impulsive, qualities we all need if we are to survive into the next millennium. I imagined sharing the culmination of the project as an exhibit of 366 leap-year portraits hung on one large wall or around the walls of a room. In 2004 I did show a subset of the year’s drawings at Gallery Korea in NYC.

Unlike my 1980 bound journal, SELF 2000 was done on different sizes, shapes, and weights of paper, from one inch to 36 inches, using mediums that allowed me to work quickly: drawing, collage, watercolor and photography.

Injury, grave illness and death in my immediate circle of family and friends had a profound effect on the work that year. I delved into the meaning of endings and beginnings, parenthood and birth. I inquired into gender issues and explored body parts; contemplated issues of image, the need to hide or be revealed. We had a controversial presidential election: I chronicled my response to world issues as well as the place of art and artists in our culture.

Sometimes it’s hard to face myself in the mirror. Yet as the work progresses, I become involved, engrossed, occasionally even enlightened. One portrait started as a depiction of anger, but in the end revealed sadness. A collage that began as an exploration of outer space ended up probing inner space. It is not about my likeness; it is about investigation, connection, transformation. Like many daily practices: exercising, meditating, keeping a journal, raising a child, we don’t always feel like doing them. But when we stay with it, the rewards are deep and meaningful.