Featured Student Member Gallery
Archive 10 - April-June 2002


Artist Statement and Bio

My interest in this work began in 1995 as a comparison between my childhood and that of my sisters, who were seven and eight at the time, living in the white middle-class America of the 1990's. Intrigued by the gender stereotypes encouraged by the adults in their lives, I investigated and found that while many of my preconceived notions were false, many others were supported through the photographs. This body of work evolved as my sisters grew up. At the ages of eleven and twelve, a natural shift in the work occurred. Pre-adolescence arrived, and with it, a shift in the images. I became interested in capturing their changing bodies, their changing attitudes towards their own lives, and the shifts that occur for a girl at this age in terms of voice and confidence. For the first time, I heard concerns about makeup, boys, and weight gain. These conversations both amazed and repulsed me. While trying to understand my sisters' girlhood, it was rapidly disappearing.

This body of work focuses on body language, beauty obsession and the social interaction of the girls. During the pre-adolescent years, a girl's true intent and meaning are often masked by a chorus of "I don't know." Their Knowledge and confidence become buried by their self-consciousness and uncertainty. This is why body language and gesture are often more telling then their words. With the camera, I look to capture the juxtaposition of the pre-adolescent being both girl and woman as well as the frequent awkwardness that comes with the age.

It's well documented that a girl looses her confidence and voice at the onset of adolescence and my own findings through the photographic work were consistent with those of my research. I believe this is true because the state of the modern girl is one which requires her to sort through numerous mixed messages while still searching for her own identity. It's difficult for a girl to strive to achieve academically when she's mostly valued for her looks, possibly receiving unequal academic support compared to her male peers. It's even more difficult for a girl to feel good about herself when she's bombarded with messages from the media, telling her she'll never be pretty or sexy enough. My goal with this work is to capture the subtleties of this age and to give the girls a visual presence that may not otherwise be seen. I also hope to enter into this new territory with the girls to capture all of the difficulties and discoveries in their approaching adolescent lives.

Ms. Brown is a recepient of the Women In Photography International Student Award 2002

Ellie Brown

M.F.A. 2002 Photography San Jose State University
B.F.A. 1997 Photography Massachusetts College of Art
1997 Massachusetts College of Art International Studies, Skopelos, Greece
1990 School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Summer Study

Grants and Awards
2001 Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts and Sciences, Natl. Juried Comp. Merit  Award
2001 Graduate Equity Fellowship
2001 Barnum-Everett Scholarship
2001 National Alliance for Excellence, Inc., Excellence in Visual Arts
2001 San Jose State University Catherine Urban Award
2001 San Jose State University Board of Directors Scholarship
2001 Ruttenberg Arts Foundation Award, Semi-Finalist
1997 Dondis Traveling Fellowship Award