Portraiture is typically considered an extraverted genre that aims to represent another person’s likeness. However, according to a famous quote from Oscar Wilde, “Every picture that is drawn with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.”
This genre is truly a unique tool for analyzing one’s surroundings and using optics to perceive the world. In the highlighted series of digital collages, Miren Etcheverry exemplifies this reflected aspect of portraiture—a method the author frequently employs in her work. She used photographs from family albums and personal collections of images for these compositions. This set is touching and transparent to write about. They all capture the women from the closest circle of relatives and family friends who profoundly influenced Miren.
This desire to reclaim family bonds as a power source arose due to the forced distance we had to impose on ourselves during the pandemic. Miren’s communicative thirst was triggered by the physical distance, prompting her to recall her time with those women. The ornamentation in the compositions reminds us of Gustav Klimt, a prominent master of the Vienna Secession movement at the turn of the twentieth century. He was well-known for his intricate, mosaic-like gold backdrops. Miren’s treatment of the scenes is more varied: fragments from old and recent prints are “inlaid” into colourful backgrounds with floral or abstract patterns. The artist’s affectionate relationships with her protagonists are conveyed through static, centric compositions that evoke associations with hieratic art pieces: “I come from a long line of strong women. During my life, I have continued to surround myself with strong women; they are my role models and the source of my own strength and feminism. Indeed, they are my goddesses.” Looking back at the portraits of significant others helps her find internal support, reconstructing the author’s contact with them on her identity map.
Miren Etcheverry is a lens artist based in Massachusetts. She was born in the French Basque Country and moved to the United States as a child. She attended the New England School of Photography and the Maine Media Workshops and holds degrees from Stanford University and MIT. She decided to devote her life to art after a career in international finance. Since 2012, the author has been actively exhibiting across the country. Her work has been featured in juried exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Danforth Art Museum, the Center for Fine Art Photography, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and in galleries worldwide. Miren received honourable mentions from the International Photography Awards (IPA) in 2014-2016, the London International Creative Competition (LLIC) in 2020, and the Pollux and Julia Cameron Awards in 2021. She was named the Artist of the Year by the Cambridge Art Association in 2022.
Miren Etcheverry is the Bronze Artist of the ArtAscent Portraits call for artists. To see the full body of work and profile, get a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Portraits issue.