Uncover: Cindy Sherman

The way I see it, as soon as I make a piece I’ve lost control of it.
— Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman was born in New Jersey, into a non-artistic family (her father an engineer and her mother a teacher). Sherman went to an arts college in Buffalo, New York where she studied painting. Painting became the first medium that she explored as an artist. She quickly fell in love with photography and felt a sense of freedom that she was not able to grasp in painting. Sherman eventually moved to New York City where her career as a photographer (and specifically her self-portraits) took off. Sherman’s career has become one of contemporary art's most well-known success stories. Her career has made way for female artists (especially in the world of photography) to be prolific and unique. “It seems boring to me to pursue the typical idea of beauty because that is the easiest and the most obvious way to see the world. It's more challenging to look at the other side."

Her works many times cover gender roles, social and political issues. Her interest lies in debunking stereotypes. In each of her photographs, Sherman poses in them herself, many times taking on personas that require elaborate costuming, makeup and production. She herself becomes the medium and the storyteller. She describes, “Everyone thinks these are self-portraits, but they aren’t meant to be. I just use myself as a model because I know I can push myself to extremes, make each shot as ugly or goofy or silly as possible.” 

In our culture obsessed with the self, Sherman's works are able, in a theatrical and comical way, to shed light on what ideas our culture holds on to. Since the 80’s, Sherman has been able to take photography (what has been largely known as an aesthetic or journalistic medium) and turn it into artistic practice. Her photography was not just used for documentation or documenting an event, it was made to show truth or reveal an essence of the person behind the camera, which for her was herself. Sherman, being the sitter, was able to use techniques such as “appropriation” and pulling inspiration from the world around her to take the story beyond herself while still contributing as the storyteller. Her legacy as an artist and female photographer has made way for many contemporary artists to express themselves in an experimental way.