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Q&A with Claire Carroll: “Woman Shoots Man”

Claire Carroll, Woman Shoots Man (click for full size)
Claire Carroll, Woman Shoots Man (click for full size)

Photographer Claire Carroll is on a roll in the Gallery, with two different jurors recognizing her pictures with Best in Show awards in two months. Last month we featured a Q&A about her extra-colorful Lifesaver in “Pop Art.” Today’s Q&A is about Woman Shoots Man, which won the Amelia T. Clemente award in our exhibit open through June 2, “The Feminist Movement in Art.”

Juror Amanda Jirón-Murphy said Woman Shoots Man recalled Jeff Wall’s 1979 photograph, Picture for Women, with the roles of male artist and female subject switched — the same reversal of roles that caught Carroll’s eye after taking the image.

What was your goal with this photograph? How do you think it fits into the tradition of feminism in art?
Claire Carroll: I was actually shooting myself in the mirror — which is something I have done on other occasions if the mirror, or the larger reflected area, is interesting — when my husband walked into the frame and peered at me in the mirror. I saw the shot immediately and positioned him so that he was only partially visible and staring directly into the camera/at me. It took a few shots to get it right as he is a reluctant model!

What struck me about the image with respect to feminism is that so often in art, men are the artists and women are the models. Not always, obviously, and much less so now, but traditionally it was that way. In my image the role is reversed. The title, Woman Shoots Man, was also carefully chosen to suggest woman’s power over man. There are so many stories in the news at the moment about men overpowering and suppressing women that I wanted to show an instance of woman being in control of man.

Are there any feminist artists you looked to for inspiration for this photograph, or in general?
To be honest, I didn’t create this image to fit the exhibit and I was so lucky to have taken it so recently and for it to have fitted the theme so well. So in that respect I wasn’t looking for a feminist influence for the image. There are some incredible female photographers and in portrait photography Julia Margaret Cameron is inspirational. Her work is so evocative and timeless.

Julia Margaret Cameron - Beatrice
Julia Margaret Cameron: Beatrice, 1866, Albumen silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. (click for full size)

How was this different from your other portrait work?
As I mentioned I have taken a few selfies in mirrors but no other self portraits. I do shoot portraits of other people but they are natural rather than staged. I think I will be exploring a different approach to portraits in the future.

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