In the series Zoomorphics, I transform my appearance using body paint and photograph myself as different creatures inspired by the natural world. Animals, plants, fungi, and more can be found in my work. I believe that connecting to nature is fundamental to the human experience, even as spending time outdoors is a diminishing part of modern urban and suburban life.
The role of gender is also central to this project. Women’s bodies have been used in fine art and advertising as objects onto which different meanings and motives are projected, and in body painting as undifferentiated canvasses. By working as model, painter, and photographer, I challenge these uses of the female body, taking artistic control of how my body and self are presented. The decision to use an alternative form of makeup on myself, and to make my images formally reminiscent of selfies, is intended to further reinforce a feminist critique.
While there is intense social pressure on women to transform our appearances to meet traditional beauty standards, I am interested in using the tools of body paint and photography to represent myself in a way that aligns with my own aesthetics and intellectual concerns.
Shelby Meyerhoff lives near the Middlesex Fells, a large forest north of Boston, and takes much of her inspiration from local ecology. She has served as an educator for the Friends of the Fells, Winchester Trails, and the Musketaquid Arts and Environment program at the Umbrella Community Arts Center. In her earlier career, Meyerhoff worked in nonprofit communications, promoting a variety of environmental initiatives. She carries into her work as an artist a deep commitment to environmental protection and education.
Meyerhoff has taken visual arts classes at the Griffin Museum of Photography, MassArt, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Illustration Academy. Her work has been shown at the Arlington Center for the Arts, the Umbrella Community Arts Center, the Beebe Estate, and the Winchester Public Library.
Contact Shelby Meyerhoff