I chose to critique and analyze the works of Kirstie Laird. I liked the variety of her works, and the bright, brilliant colors in most of them. I think the one that fascinated me most, however, was Marionette because it didnt have any of the orange colors or motifs prominent in her other works. This puzzled me, since the title of her showing was Orange Girl and every other picture in the showing fit the title well.
I found Lairds works quite similar to those of Judy Dater. Their finished products arent too similar for the most part, but their reasons for the pictures they take are nearly identical. Lairds series investigates the ways in which we define ourselves through social roles, dress and physical markers, both natural and applied. This sounds very much like what Dater wishes to convey in her self-portrait sequence in which she dressed and posed herself as stereotypes of certain kinds of women. Both women take special pains to use themselves as models (not an easy feat, I know from experience!). Not only that, they change costumes and props in every picture to convey the character they are becoming. In a sense, they are actresses, and each picture is a separate role for them. How well they fit the roles? That is a matter of opinion. I found each role they wished to convey was portrayed quite well. As different as each ladies style is, I still found some pictures I thought were quite similar in many respects.
Lairds Kitchen and Daters Ms. Clingfree were two pictures I thought were similar. If you laid the two side by side, you would see nothing in them that was remotely similar. One is of a young attractive housewife sitting on the kitchen counter, cheerily showing off the fruit bowl. The other is of an older housewife, perhaps one who has been married many years and is starting to feel the stress taking its toll on her. In that sense, the pictures are of the same person (a housewife) as she goes through the years. Laird shows her when she is happily married and everything is sunny and bright. Dater shows the woman after the years have taken their toll and she is tired of it all. I think their ages influence the work. Laird is quite young, 23 I believe, so it is only natural she would show a young happy housewife. Dater, however, is 58 years old. She has seen much in her life, and no doubt was to some degree the unhappy housewife with too many chores and too little time to complete them in. I think in that sense, the pictures are of the same genre; they are just the same person represented at different ages in her life.
Lairds Marionette and Daters The Magician were also similar. In this case, though, the similarities were in the actual picture and not the theme behind it. In Marionette, Laird is the actual puppet on the strings. This picture also happens to be the only one in her series where there is no orange color or orange motif in the picture. I have yet to figure out why this is though. Perhaps it is the truest representation of her life, how she feels she has no control over her actions? If so, then it is not merely a character she has assumed, and therefore the orange that symbolizes her characters need not apply. Once again, her young age could influence this picture. At her age, her whole life is ahead of her, and there is much confusion in making a career choice, perhaps she feels that she is not secure enough in her career right now, and therefore has no control in her life. In The Magician Dater is the puppet master toying with the strings of her little puppet. She seems to be quite confident and in control of her life. Perhaps with her age she has accumulated security, and knows she has firm control of her future. Dater seems far more confident in her stature in this picture than Laird does in hers.
Lairds Parasol Tattoo reminded me of Daters Nehemiah. I found Parasol Tattoo to be the most intimate of Lairds pictures. It is the only one in which she is not costumed, she is not assuming any roles. She is giving us an intimate glimpse of her body, her soul. I love the tattoos on her back, they are an integral part of her. The way the parasol blocks the head, and yet shows the shadow of it, it enhances the mood of the picture. I love the whole picture for this reason. I love how you can see the red marks where she just took off her bra. The whole picture is just so intimate, it is sensual. I love Daters Nehemiah for this reason. In this case, the picture isnt a self-portrait, but one of her finer nude pictures. It is a picture of the back of a nude man. You can see none of his facial features, and yet you can tell so much from his back. I love the line of it, the way the lights glisten on his skin, it looks like silk to me. It is an incredibly sensual picture, one of my favorites by her. In this case, Parasol Tattoo and Nehemiah have similar subject matter, and the same sensuality oozes from them because they are so intimate. They give me chills to look at them, I love them love them love them!!!
Overall, I was quite impressed with the broad variety in Lairds work. She is a very creative individual, with some crazy ideas. I love the fact that she does color photography, her work would not be the same in black and white. It is her vibrant colors that reflect her brilliant personality and make the pictures true representations of herself. I am eager to see what more she produces in the coming years, and am especially curious how much her work will come to resemble Daters as she ages. I think right now her work is so vibrant because she is so young and wild . . I am curious as to whether it will mellow with age.