Photo: Strikingly Odd Media
Lauren E. Peters (b. 1981) is a Wilmington, Delaware native and started creating self-portraits for a small exhibition in 2016 after an extended hiatus from painting. Continuing her work for two years, she was awarded the “Emerging Artist” fellowship by the Delaware Division of the Arts for her work with an associated exhibition at The Biggs Museum of American Art. Peters has since exhibited on a national level and is also active locally as a studio artist at The Delaware Contemporary. In 2020-2021 she planned and executed an exhibition at The Contemporary with 16 other artists creating their own interpretation of one of her early self-portraits. Peters continues to grow as an artist and expand the world in which the portraits exist.
I create self-portraits because identity is tricky to pin down. I create self-portraits because I don’t like people taking my picture. Because I feel like I have nothing to wear for an occasion, to be the person I need to be in that situation. Because I love bright colors but am not comfortable being the center of attention. I create self-portraits because I am proud to join the lineage of women who were not allowed to go to art school or paint from life, and therefore painted themselves. Because I can’t answer the questions on the Myers-Briggs personality test with any amount of certainty. Because I want to embrace the many facets and dualities within how we think of ourselves.
The work has evolved into a more in-depth analysis of The Feminine and the complexities therein. Having never embraced the limited and constricting ideas of gender in which I was raised, I am creating my own visual language, my own truth, while referencing how much our culture still relies on the construct of gender. Donning wigs and costumes is a nod, and owes a debt, to drag performers and artists who embody The Feminine by manipulating their outer appearance. I am inspired by those who do not live according to the bodies they were born into, who break through the boxes society has tried to put them in, and stand firmly in their own place on the vast spectrum of femininity.