The Portrait Unbound

From Brooklyn, New York I bring to you Robert Weingarten, an American artist who developed his interest for art in his teenage years. He created his own black room in the restroom of his parents two bedroom Brooklyn apartment at the age of twelve. He went on to enroll at Baruch College in New York to study Business but continued to explore the world of photography on his own. (Cox) He was in fact self-taught and now he successfully expresses his gifted aesthetics of photography to create unique self-portraits of individuals. You’re probably thinking, “Oh like the famous Mona Lisa selfie by Leonardo De Vinci!” My respects to the artistic Leo for the Mona Lisa portrait, but Weingarten’s version of self-portraits are deeper and have a fundamentally personal connection to the individual. Weingarten’s self-portraits do not express the physical attributes of an individual in image but rather what is beyond the superficial. He creates a pool of overlapping biographical images that come together to build a distinctive self-portrait. I think this is a very different and interesting type of art in which the artist takes other individual’s personal biographies and shares them with the world through his gifted photographic skills. Below is the self-portrait of Sonia Sotomayor by Weingarten.


What inferences can you make of Sonia Sotomayor by examining her beautiful self-portrait? Let’s talks a little bit about her. Sonia Sotomayor was born in The Bronx, New York to Puerto Rican parents and went on to graduate from Princeton University. Can you pick out the unique layers of Sotomayor’s life from her self-portrait? The Yankee Stadium in the portrait hints that she is from New York and you can see Princeton University in the background layer. She is also the first Latina of Hispanic heritage to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. That leaves us with the bold image you see, the Supreme Court’s very first building. Pretty interesting huh?

I really enjoyed soaking in the beauty of Weingarten’s artistic self-portraits. These portraits take me back to our learning experiences. I can relate the above portrait to reflect on how we have discussed identity throughout the semester. We all learned that we all come from different backgrounds, customs, ethnicities, sexual identifications, colors, and well, you get the picture. We identify with what lies within ourselves because that is what makes us who we are while society makes its own inferences about who we are. Think about it like this, before birth we already have our own pool of biographic images which would include our ethnic roots. Then, throughout our life we add layers to the pool which will come together to create our unique and glowing self-portrait. We do not need to focus on the superficial but more on what is beyond. We should be proud of the overlapping images we carry within ourselves because that is something no one can take from us. What does your self-portrait look like?

Cox, Julian. “New Frontiers: The Photographs of Robert Weingarten”. web. 19 Apr 2017.

Weingarten, Robert. Portrait Unbound  Series: Sonia Sotomayor. Digital Image. 2010. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History: Pushing Boundaries. 19 Apr 2017



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