November, 2005 class activities. These second-year art students are participating in SELF ... a collaborative digital art project with art students at the Maine College of Art [Portland, Maine, U.S.A.] ... and they are seen along with Visiting Lecturer, Tom R. Chambers discussing their concepts for the project. Chambers' translator, Shan Shan [Gina] is seen to his right.










This project is a collaboration between students in China and America under the instruction of Tom R. Chambers at Zhaoqing University (Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China) and George LaRou at the Maine College of Art (Portland, Maine, U.S.A.).

The self-portrait gives the artist the greatest freedom from external constraints. Because the artist is his or her own cheapest and most available model, the self-portrait is the finest opportunity to make the most flattering statement or the most penetrating revelation of character of which he or she is capable [The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2005, Columbia University Press]. The artist tries not only to express his inner drive through aesthetic presentation, but also to examine that drive through portrayal of the most intimate subject, the self.


"Even though the assignment parameters have created an inherent difference between the Chinese and American self-portraits, there are other differences ... albeit, subtle ... that are seen/felt between the two. Perhaps there's a bit more sophistication in this subtle form for the American self-portraits with an inclination towards the representation of the photographic image rather than its blatant manipulation and added elements as seen within the Chinese self-portraits. Again, this blatant manipulation and added elements are most likely due to the assignment parameter of requiring the students to utilize layers, masks and filters for graphics skills improvement.

These added elements ... more detailing or 'storyboarding' [embellishment] ... within the Chinese self-portraits create busier images for the eye. The American self-portraits are relatively 'plain/simple' [unembellished] in their syle. Elevated ideals or conduct [emotionalism] run through the Chinese self-portraits ... a high mindedness and passion that are prevalent within Chinese youth who have the opportunity to attend college for a better future. The American self-portraits touch on the intellect and as it relates to the assignment parameter of working in a variety of approaches which were influenced by artists they found compelling [according to the instructor, George LaRou]."

Tom R. Chambers
Visiting Lecturer, Digital/New Media Art
Fine Arts Department
Zhaoqing University
Zhaoqing, China

Go to The Exploration of Self by Jeanne Ivy for more information about self-portraiture.