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Portrait of the Artist

Curated by Mary Birmingham

Judith Henry, Split Persona, (detail), 2020 Archival pigment print, 10 x 8 inches
January 22 - April 30, 2023

Artists have been making portraits—artistic representations of people—for at least 5,000 years, and since the time of the early Renaissance, many of these have been self-portraits. This type of portraiture is particularly interesting since it helps us understand how artists interpret themselves and the world around them. “Portrait of the Artist” explores some of the ways artists represent themselves and their peers. Each of the works in this exhibition features an artist as the subject, utilizing both straightforward representations as well as more nuanced interpretations.

Mary Beth McKenzie, a realist painter who works from life, has been making self-portraits in her New York studio for nearly five decades. Sarah McEneaney’s autobiographical paintings document her life and surroundings, presenting an intimate glimpse into the artist’s domestic and studio spaces. Judith Brodsky created a series of monumentally scaled self-portraits in response to the isolation and restrictions she experienced during the pandemic lockdown.

Self-portraiture sometimes allows an artist to assume an alternate identity or disguise.

Julie Heffernan’s fantastical and allegorical self-portraits incorporate references to art history and her growing concern for the environment. In Judith Henry’s photographic series of self-portraits, “Beauty Masks,” the artist poses behind masks that juxtapose images of fashion models’ faces with her own.

Even when the artists in this exhibition portray other artists, they reference self-portraiture, with their subjects consciously posing as artists. Rodríguez Calero reimagines and reinterprets a well-known self-portrait of Puerto Rican artist José Campeche, updating the imagery to reflect his Afro-Caribbean identity. Donna Bassin invited artist friends to pose with objects meaningful to their practices and photographed them for her ongoing series, “My Own Witness.”

Performing parallel roles as creators and subjects each of these seven artists brings a unique perspective to the merging of artistic and personal identity. As we increasingly turn to contemporary artists to help us make sense of our world, it is all the more important for us to understand how they see themselves.

Mary Birmingham

Judith Henry, Split Persona, 2020 Archival pigment print, 10 x 8 inches

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In addition to inspiring people with our classes, we spark imaginations with world-class art installed on our terrace and in our galleries. We maintain the beautiful stone mill that deepens your ties with the past and provide a gathering place for your family and friends on the Toshiko Takaezu Terrace.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation so that we may continue educating, challenging, and inspiring community through the arts.

Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Hunterdon County Board of County Commissioners, through funds administered by the Cultural & Heritage Commission; Hyde and Watson Foundation; Union Foundation; and The Large Foundation, along with other corporations, foundations and individuals.  The Hunterdon Art Museum is a wheelchair-accessible space.  Publications are available in large print.  Patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may contact the Museum through the New Jersey Relay Service at (TTY) 1 (800) 852-7899.

The land upon which Hunterdon Art Museum is located is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.” We acknowledge the Lenni-Lenape as the original people of this land.

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