Skip to main content

Rebecca Porteous
It’s Okay to Cry

perforated photography print in lightbox
16.53″ x 23.39″

United Kingdom

Casey Roonan, Comics Artist & Cartoonist

Casey Roonan
Cartoonist & Comics Artist

Artist Statement
“I am 17, and in my first year of studying A-level Art. I have grown to both enjoy and appreciate the world of art, and I find myself inspired every day by society and the people around me. I hence began a project on ‘Inequality’ as part of my A-level course, and have explored gender inequality in specific – looking at the impact gender stereotypes have upon individuals.

From a young age, boys are told to favour the colour blue, be strong, play sports, and silence their emotions; whilst girls are taught to favour pink, look pretty, and become domestic goddesses. These stereotypes, stigmas and labels build false and distorted perceptions of individuals, which are often fueled by the media.

I was inspired by this notion, and produced this piece as a result. Through the use of light, I wanted to capture how powerful the negative impact of gender stereotypes can be upon individuals, and how hidden these effects can be – for without the presence of light, the tears, words and emotions remain concealed and oblivious to the viewer.

To produce this piece, I took a series of photographs, and used Photoshop to layer them over each other. I then pierced holes into the print to reveal light from a lightbox positioned underneath. This created a striking tone and contrast against the darkness of the print.”

Purchase a critique or Skype consult

Video Transcript

“I love that not only are you using digital media to very convincingly mimic more traditional photographic effects, but that you are then sort of returning to analog in this very visceral and direct way by piercing the paper. That’s such a clever way of adding an additional layer of depth but also integrate this potentially very imposing text into an image that is otherwise extremely ethereal.

It reminds me of something that Saul Bass would do in that he such a strong and graphic design sense, but when pushes his work the next level is his willingness to try new applications and think outside of the box in terms of engaging media.

One thing I love to see you try next would be to incorporate color, because you do, in your artist statement, talk about the way that gender norms are communicated through the use of color (girls being forced to engage with pink and boys to associate with the color blue) and I think because you are using a light in this piece so effectively by shining the sort of light box through the holes, I’d love to see what you could potentially do with using different colored light. I think that would be another wrinkle that, given your excellent imagination, you would just run wild with.”

Submit Your Art for a free Live CritiquePurchase a critique or Skype consult

Support us!


3 responses on "Rebecca Porteous"

  1. Wow Rebecca, what an incredible piece! I love seeing other young artists engaging in sociopolitical subject matter and using your feelings about gender inequality to inspire your work. Even prior to reading your artist statement, it was obvious to me that this was born from a concept that you felt very strongly about.

    The relationship of text to image is extremely successful here. I am drawn in by the distinct methods with which the different types of messages that are written in your piece. The moments where the dots of tex hug the curves of the girl’s profile and blend into the figures/surroundings seem ominously intertwined, mimicking how these messages are deeply rooted in our society. The message in the center is your own narrative that goes against societal norms, and its bold and unyielding quality reflects that as well. Very thoughtful!

    If you wanted to keep going with this piece, I would love to see this blown up in scale, which would allow you to play with multiple light sources and even potentially introduce color. What if you had distinct blue and pink light sources competing with each other and intermingling in certain areas as they shone through? That could be an interesting way to push your strong concept even further!

    This can be a challenging subject to tackle, and I think you did such an excellent job of doing so without falling into any clichés or overdone methods. I can’t wait to see more from you, awesome job!!

  2. Rebecca, I am really blown away with this work!

    I am really impressed by your use of mark making and digital media in this piece. I find that the juxtaposition between your strong photoshop skills and the loose, stippled holes you used in this piece make for a really exciting composition, and adds a lot of interest and curiosity to your piece. It leaves the audience asking questions, which is great for the message that you conveyed in your artist statement.

    In the future, it might be interesting if you played around in scale. Whether it’s the size of the figures in relation to one another, the scale of the light box, or even the sizes of the perforations, I think there is a lot of different elements you could play around with to make some very interesting compositions.

    I would recommend you look at Maurizio Anzeri’s work. While he uses found photographs rather than his own, he has an interesting way of making them come to life, in a similar way that you use light.

    Overall, this is a really strong piece and I could see it working well as a series. Bravo!

  3. I am intrigued by the image you have created; I love seeing how the materials have been explored and manipulated in this piece. You have beautifully translated the digital into a tangible experience. I particularly enjoy the various relationships you are creating, first through the layering and light and again, between the photographs and the text itself, they provide narrative and tension to the piece, thus conveying your concept effectively.

    Two moments especially draw me in: the centre of the image where the girl’s face weaves into the other face and the text shimmers through and secondly, in the top left corner where the word ‘weak’ starts to fade into the background. Those are really ethereal moments and going forward I would suggest to keep pushing these relationships further.

    Because light is such a powerful and important element in this work, something to consider is how the audience views and experiences your piece. I would love to see this as an installation; I think it would give you an opportunity to play around with different light settings and sources (artificial and natural) as was also mentioned by Casey.

    Another thing that might be fun to experiment with is the paper/material on which you are printing the image. What if it was printed on a thinner, more translucent paper, how might that change the way in which the image interacts with light? How will it interact with the different spaces the piece will be in?

    I think it would be a great resource to check out Nalini Malani’s work. Not only does she addresses gender inequality issues but also explores the relationship of light, motion & still images and painting in her installation works in various experimental manners. (Two works I really like: Transgressions and Mother India).

    I love your concept and admire the manner in which you have conveyed this challenging subject! I can easily see it as a series. Great job!

Leave a Message

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.