Lucas Stiegman

When I first began to wear makeup and gender affirming clothing, I felt beautiful. When my mother and father saw me, they told me I looked disgusting. In much of my work, I have been reflecting on how society often views me versus how I view myself. Many of my photographic tableaus work to ambiguate a subjective perception with a more objective reality. Within the current political climate, sharing experiences through social media highlights the impact that communication has on altering our perspectives of each other. These photographs represent my perception. 

For the images that arise from intuition rather than direct intention, my large collection of props is a source of my inspiration for many of my strongest photographic tableaus. When I become the model for these scenes, I often work with an assistant, allowing me to adopt a directorial process. The grotesque as well as the aesthetics and narratives seen in my photographs have been heavily informed by my childhood experiences. The Scooby-Doo cartoons and innovative Nintendo’s games I enjoyed as a child exposed me to colorful dramas, where a protagonist overcame fear or monsters through humor and objective examination. I am privileged to have the opportunity to be attending Illinois State University (ISU) to study Arts Technology and Photography (BFA). My college experience opportunity to make connections and gain insights on social justice issues through direct involvement. My exposure to these various narratives throughout my life shaped the ethics I hold my work to today. As an adult, sadly, I still see the narrow ideologies that once caused me mental tension pervade through normative society today. 

The colorful aesthetics and subject matter within these sociologically charged tableaus combine to enable a sense of comfort within the discomfort. Expressing my thoughts through the lens of a camera is the language I’ve learned to use when my words fail me. My subversive photographs seek to start a conversation on these uncomfortable issues we are never taught to navigate.