February is often considered the month of love and an important part of that is remembering to love yourself. Lucille Ball once said, “love yourself first and everything else will fall into line.” Society has set very strict standards of beauty. We see it every day in magazines and on television and it is those pervasive standards that shift our own views. Sometimes, however, there will be an article or a video that offer hope for change. Beauty is not standard nor skin-deep, and there is one Chicago artist who shows that it is inner beauty that matters most.
Tim Arroyo is a Chicago-based artist who is bringing a new perspective of beauty to ArtStreet’s gallery this February. His exhibition “Metamorphosis” takes an interesting look at inner beauty by photographing people with infrared light. In his artist statement, Arroyo had this to say about the process:
I started the Inner Beauty project 5 years ago, after I had one of my digital cameras converted to only shoot infrared. I took note as to how the IR process affected skin by essentially removing pigment, concealing most lines and blemishes, and creating a smooth finish. The photos exhibited a unique quality unlike any digital manipulation of color, and the smooth finish omitted the need for retouching. I felt the need to use this technology in my portrait work to open up the possibilities of photographing those who had been unwilling to be photographed by my camera in the past, due to the fact that they were unhappy with their outer appearance, as most had compared themselves to a social definition of natural beauty.
In my opinion, the IR process sheds the outer appearance, to reveal the natural beauty from within. I set out not only to explore the technology, but also to create timeless portraiture. Each portrait is unique, and the light tones produced are reminiscent to a sculptor’s marble block. All of the portraits produced are similar in appearance regardless of natural pigment, which eliminates the lines of inequality, and is a further demonstration of the inherent beauty in everyone.
I was lucky enough to see some of Tim Arroyo’s work in a Chicago gallery last year and it definitely left an impression. I’m so happy that ArtStreet has brought him to Ohio, but more than anything I’m happy it was for his Inner Beauty Project. While his work and other collections are stunning, this exhibition speaks to me personally. As someone who is self-conscious and often does not like having my picture taken, this collection of prints offers solidarity. I love the idea of using art to look past the flaws we see in the mirror daily. Arroyo allows his subjects to see themselves in a different light—literally. It breaks past age, race, size, and gender barriers to show who they are on a deeper level, because beauty is inherent in all people. It is an important concept and the programming ArtStreet has devised around this gallery show is unlike anything we’ve done in the past. From discussions focusing on how the media impacts self-image to workshops with famous drag queens, we’re pushing boundaries and beauty standards to a new and better level. For a full schedule of events, visit www.udayton.edu/artstreet.
Arroyo’s work has been exhibited nationally and has been featured in international photography and design magazines. “Metamorphosis” opens Tuesday February 18th with an opening reception from 5:30-7 in the ArtStreet Gallery (Studio D).