Abby Van Ess
I have always been fascinated by the mechanics of photography—how with the click of a button, you can freeze a moment in time forever. What you photograph may change over time, but what is in the photograph never will. In my work I use personal experiences such as coping with mental disorders, the power words have had in my life, and heartbreak.
My first body of work, Misophonia, I explore my mental disorder and the emotions I feel because of it. In the summer of 2016, I found out that my condition had a name, and I started researching ways to cope, as the disorder is incurable. One of the ways to deal with misophonia is to do relaxation techniques; this helps reduce stress levels and calm the brain. I want to communicate that although my disorder (or any mental disorder) constantly disrupts my life, there are mechanisms to deal with it and bring back a sense of order.
My second body of work, Sticks and Stones, deals with verbal abuse. Making assumptions about other people and projecting those thoughts using negative words is harmful. Having me as the subject makes this piece more intimate and being nude in the photograph represents vulnerability. Words have the power to change the way we see ourselves, and I think it is important to bring that to light because we often forget that influence.
My last two bodies of work, Identity and Love Kills, interrogate the emotions felt during heartbreak. In Identity, I delve into what it is like to lose yourself. Often we feel empty or lost when the one we love leaves us. We do not recognize ourselves, and we feel trapped by the weight of feeling like we are in the unknown. In Love Kills, I dive a little deeper. The only audio in the film is my voice reciting a poem written about how I felt when I experienced heartbreak. We all know this pain and listening to the words with the clips flashing in and out reinforces that struggle.
I want to be challenged as an artist, conceptually and critically. The BFA photography program will help me accomplish that by letting me explore more dimensions of who I am and using my experiences to convey ideas photographically with the world.