All images © Cecilia Paredes
Part of what makes us human is our ability to see beyond the narrow door through which we enter the world—to grow beyond the culture of our birth by recognizing other cultures, other patterns of life. Yet our birth culture is always imprinted upon us; the mystery of identity is never fully resolved. We are always from a time and place to which we can never return.
In every frame, Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes is the subject—even when the sculptural creations appear as abstract concepts or when she recedes into the folds of the enveloping materials—her body remains ever-present.
Throughout her work, Paredes succeeds in transforming herself into an expression of her interiority. Her body, a blank canvas, serves as an empty vessel to reflect both her surroundings and her feelings. For example, in the first photo above, at a moment when she has almost completely disappeared into the folds and tendrils of a dark, damask fabric—her unmissable eyes draw us into the frame and give us an entry point through which we can engage, on a human level. Paredes lives and works in Philadelphia now, but is originally from Lima, Peru. Educated in Lima and in Cambridge, Peruvian-born Paredes was initially inspired to create her fascinating photographic scenes because of her constant relocation. Using her own body, she creates a narrative that explores location using the body as part of the intended landscape.
With her striking and thought-provoking pieces, she aims to express every person’s desire to belong, while simultaneously exploring her own personal struggle with migration, displacement and her own idea of “home” that has constantly been a source of inspiration. Camouflaging herself into her surroundings, Paredes’ work often depicts a faceless woman in her self portraits—exhausted and depleted, seemingly disappearing into her own brightly colored backdrop.
Though the works usually include a busily colored pattern background, Paredes utilizes her many skills as an artist to either paint her own skin, sometimes her whole body, to fit effortlessly into the pattern, or clothe herself in the identical fabric as her background, to blend into whichever pattern fits her emotional expression for the moment.