Jeanie Stehr

2020-2021 All Exhibitions Thesis 2021

Class of 2021
Art + Design

Shapes of You

Hearing about Thesis class as a freshman, you picture stress and long hours dedicated to one project over the course of an entire semester. It wasn’t necessarily something I was looking forward to in all honesty. But with that being said, working on this project during such a period of uncertainty was more therapeutic to me than any other action I took to make life feel “normal” again.

This series allowed me to connect with five different women, who I wouldn’t have met otherwise, during a pandemic that prevented almost everyone from making human connections for an entire year. These women shared the same passion that I did for female empowerment, diversity and representation not only in the fashion industry, but in the world, and the suppression of societal beauty standards. The women I captured in these photos represent the journey that humanity is going on to accept women for who they are, how they choose to represent themselves and the equality that women deserve.

The painting aspect in this series represents my own personal journey. Quarantine was a difficult for everyone, and for me I felt like I was in a deep “artist block.” Photography to me is so heavily reliant on human connection and collaboration, two things that were not available to us for so many months. Without a way to express myself I would have completely lost my mind. I started painting everyday, often all day, and trying bright and colorful techniques in order to stay positive. I would ship these canvas to friends so they could brighten others days like they brightened mine. Painting has become an important part of who I am as an artist, and is the biggest way I push myself creatively in my career.

The final aspect of this series is why I chose to make the photos black and white. The first photo series I did in photo 1 was black and white as well, and it was a massive turning point in my career at Butler and as a photographer. That series was the first time I felt confident in what I was doing and that I could produce original and creative work that made viewers feel something. I made Shapes of You 1-5 in black and white to pay homage to the artist that I was, and to look forward to the one that I am becoming.