Seeking attention and desire is human nature, which is more and more apparent in our increasingly online culture. Our featured artist creates work based on the good and bad side of online attention and its consequences. Sarah C. Blanchette shares her own experiences and vulnerability in her work, creating three-dimensional photograph-based objects, examining perceptions of beauty and self within the digital and real world. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story and using it to inspire and help others.
Sarah C. Blanchette is photo and fiber-based artist working out of Detroit, Michigan.
Calling on quilting as a form of documentation, Blanchette aims to bridge the gap between generations in order to bring awareness to the dangers of teenage girls coming of age on the internet. She is currently an Artist in Residence at BULK SPACE in Detroit.
As a teenage girl at the age of thirteen, Sarah C Blanchette began conversing with adult men in chatrooms on websites marketed to minors. These conversations consisted of requests for self-portraits from Blanchette, which would often contain sexualized imagery. The feedback from these men was instrumental in the conception of her self-esteem and internal self-image. In addition to her contact with men on the internet, Blanchette also had real-world contact with an 18-year-old man at her high school. He would commission her for nude photographs in the hallway in exchange for a hug and feedback on her photography skills. The attention from these interactions proved intoxicating for the young girl, and played upon her desire for acceptance and praise from men. Many of the interactions also rendered her powerless through threats of exploitation both online and at her high school.
As Blanchette matured physically, entered college, and gained a significant amount of weight, the dropping away of digital support from the men online began. It was at this point that her internal image of herself began to separate from her real-world physical form. Through repetitive, physical workings with her current image, Blanchette is seeking to mend the dysmorphic rifts between her internal and external form.
Blanchette’s current artwork often takes the form of ‘grotesque, un-fuckable’ objects meant to send a message of unattainability to the men who took advantage of her. She has visions of leaving the works on the doorsteps of these men in protest. By taking these ‘digital phenomenons’ outside of the virtual realm and giving them physical weight in the real world, Blanchette pulls on the power of confrontation in her artwork in order to prevent the ability of the viewer to ignore the artist and the abuse occurring behind their screens.
On a broader front, Blanchette is on a mission to help others, and herself, mend the dysmorphic feelings that young women have within their current physical selves in response to growing up with online personas.
Find Sarah online https://www.sarahcblanchette.studio/ and on Instagram @sarahblanchettestudio
Photo by Jeff Cancelosi