April 16, 2011

Photographer: Alex Waber
Model: Brittany Bowes
Hair, Makeup, Clothing, Styling: Carolyn Secord

This is something I have been working on for a long long time. Just trying to get it right. Everything about her has been hand created by me. I have always had a strong fascination with art and one of my favorite pieces is Nude Descending a Staircase by Duchamp. I thought I would take this cubist style into my hands and try to bring it to real life.










Marie Van Goethem

November 9, 2010

For this character I was inspired by one of my favorite artist, Edgar Degas. For many years has his coloring, technique and study of the body been very intriguing to me. Following my photos is a short story of Marie Van Goethem, the young lady behind my workings and also many of Degas’.

Model Dana Sorensen brought beautiful emotion to this shoot. Fabulous job!

Perhaps you’ve seen her.

A ribbon tied loosely around her braid. Shoulders back, arms taut and fingers tightly interlaced behind her. Lanky legs, knobby knees. Tired, lilting eyes. Tattered gauze tutu. And chin lifted in irresolute defiance.

Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen” is one of the most recognizable works of modern art in the world. Looking at her, some will see a teenager who, though a little awkward, has a quiet beauty and authenticity. Others envisage an ugly, depraved street urchin.

For more than a century, her figure has been scrutinized, unleashing vicious debates over issues of female beauty and sexuality. She was center stage, too, for part of an artistic revolution.

As part of the ongoing wrangling over the girl’s identity, and what she represents, art historians in more recent years have begun to ask: Who was she?

A girl by the name of Marie Van Goethem was the real “little dancer,” a frequent model for the French painter and occasional sculptor.

Her story, as it has come together, is fragmented and quite grim.


Born poor in Paris

Marie Genevieve Van Goethem was born June 7, 1865, to Belgian parents, a father who was a tailor and a mother who had no profession. The girl was given the name of her dead sister, who died after 18 days of life the prior year.

The Van Goethems settled in Paris, a place then quickened by a new sense of the modern, straddling its pre-industrial and post-industrial self.

The onset of modernism brought with it a new popular culture, too. Bustling streets, sidewalk cafes, singers and dancers, enticing shops – these were all signs of a new pace of life, a new hunger for pleasure and entertainment.

The family lived in Paris’ 9th Arrondissement, a diverse stew of wealthy and poor, day laborers and prostitutes, brothels and merchants. The Breda district where Marie was born was one of the most squalid pockets.

Marie became a student at the Paris Opera dance school and later performed in opera house ballet performances. Her two sisters, Antoinette and Charlotte, were also dancers.

At some point when the girls were still young, Mr. Van Goethem died, leaving his wife and daughters to fend for themselves. Mrs. Van Goethem became a laundress, a common job for dancers’ mothers.

The widow Van Goethem and her girls moved into a seven-story stone building facing the street, not far from Degas’ studio. It had “one dark staircase,” two shops at street level, a paint shop, a beer seller, an innkeeper, a hairdresser and laundresses.

The world within a world of impoverished Parisians of that time: “But mixed up with the lofty brand-new buildings there were still plenty of rickety old houses; between facades of carved masonry yawned black holes, gaping kennels exposing their wretched windows. Coming up through the rising tide of luxury the destitution of the slums thrust itself into view.”

Dance as a fine art had fallen to the realm of mild musical entertainments that attracted large, less discriminating crowds. Dancers were paid modest wages, and a little extra per-performance money. It was generally more than other child laborers earned.

Degas frequented the ballet performances at the Paris Opera House, where Marie danced roles of extras such as peasants and slaves. He often slipped backstage with other prominent figures of the day.

His relationships with women are largely unknown. Degas’ mother died when he was 13, he never married and no one can say whether he had mistresses or not.

Each of the trio of girls modeled for Degas, as did a host of others. The artist created some of the first behind-the scenes images of dancers, by far his favorite subject.

Since the 1870s, Degas had been investigating the mechanics of human motion, which some say caused a psychological distance from his subjects, both in the studio and in his art. He dictated positions to the dancers who, for four hours of holding a pose, would probably be paid between 6 and 10 francs (a pound of meat cost a franc or


He did not work quickly, unlike many of his Impressionist contemporaries, and demanded a great deal of time and perseverance from his models. At some point, the police came around, asking questions about the frequent comings and goings of the young girls.

Degas attended the ballet’s auditions and competitions, with, some say, a paternal interest, advocating for one dancer or another.

The dancer’s hard work and the cost to her body are present in her muscular form and her stance. She is an individual, tired and tense, not a type.

Young Marie became known as Degas’ model. The local newspapers, which included a line or two about each dancer when there was a performance, described just Marie as an “artist’s model” for a time.

Marie and her sister Antoinette were also noted in the papers for frequenting the Martyrs Tavern and the Rat Mort, both frequented by Degas and known hangouts for young and available women. The girls had become prostitutes. The lower- and middle-class women who took up the sex trade were both reviled and desired in a way that’s partly unfamiliar today.

Fear that their vulgarities would infiltrate the new modern culture was common. Still, they were also among the most independent, and sometimes educated, women of their time. For a few, prostitution was a way to climb up the social ladder.

For the van Goethem girls, though, it was not.

Antoinette was thrown in jail for trying to steal 700 francs from one of her gents and seems to disappear from all record after that. Marie was arrested, too, for trying to pickpocket one of her customers.

Marie was eventually sacked, dismissed from the opera ballet. Dancers were usually fired for things such as performance mistakes, absences and tardiness.

After that, nothing is known about Marie. That her fate was cast into oblivion only accentuates the debate over the meaning of “Little Dancer.”

The end to Marie’s story might have affirmed one point of view or another, but we don’t know whether she married, had children or even grew to old age. No record has been found.

The Monster

November 4, 2010



May 24, 2010

These are just a couple of old paintings that I still have left through the commotion of my life. I am not sure where in the world everything else I have created has gone. Artist, never good at keeping track, organization and the paperwork! I promise there will be more new work as it comes!

Here are my two subject matter obsessions–people and trees!

Self Portrait?

May 24, 2010

What constitutes a self portrait? A definition by Wikipedia– “a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist”.  When you view a photo of an individual, for example, in a magazine editorial, who does it represent? Yes there is a face, but does that overtake the presence of the clothing, the makeup, the hair, the idea behind that photo? Is it the face that is being represented or used as only another tool to express? Is the portrait in fact that of the mind behind the photo for it defines more of them then the individual captured? Could this be considered a Self-portrait?

Hair, makeup, clothing, photography all creations of me, Carolyn.

Taking it beyond.

May 23, 2010

This exploration was an expansion and continuation on the previous, paralleling beauty with collecting. It takes the ideas of collections to an extreme. It is analyzing those who take items out of their purpose to satisfy what they feel is a need (rather then a want, moving this to an unhealthy trend). From the surface it appears to be normal but when you take a closer look you find that there is something that just doesn’t belong.

These photos, as well as the last, also comment on the realm of beauty in that woman (and men) go to extreme, unnatural, ridiculous lengths to achieve what they think is an “ideal” beauty. With this being something that does not exist they continue to grab at anything that they feel will bring them closer, which in reality is just bringing them farther away. Eventually if you go to far, everything just falls to pieces.

Obsession and Beauty

May 23, 2010

As previously mentioned, I carried on with the concepts of collections for some time through my studies. Through the ideas of collecting, I more so grasped the obsessive natures behind collecting and the excess of it. I turned to a realm where excess and obsession parallels that of collecting. The world of beauty. I concentrated on three general themes: makeup,  jewelry and hair.



Its all in the past

May 23, 2010

Here is a little background on my history of photography. Some projects I have done while in Fine Arts in university, enjoy!

When I began to work with concepts I immediately got sucked into the exploration of collections, those who collect and the obsession in collecting. The photos below reflect this repetitive action not only visually by capturing those who partake in the action itself, but also within the process of making the art itself. These individuals have been chosen for their collecting of similar items that may not be needed in duplication, keeping items that after use will not serve a purpose, and buying items that you may not ever use just because it fits into the category of your collection. Generally people like this find a comfort in purchasing something they know they already enjoy. They know they will not be disappointed. It is their safety blanket.

tyler Lindsay




The idea of comfort and then safety blanket was taken into the construction of this concept. I figure, what is more collective and repetitive then the process of making  a quilt? Not only before, in the act of collection all of the bits of fabric, but after with the repetition of the sewing itself.

I then felt like I was being sucked in to this repetitive obsessive nature and decided to float with it. The images I used were taken, then photocopied, then the photocopy was photocopied and so forth. This created a spectrum of the image from the original quality to a very contrasted degraded quality, speaking of the progression of collecting. The more and more you acquire of these items, the less and less sense it makes. the final step was making these images into photo transfers, so I could sew them into the quilt.

I don’t have an image of the quilt at the moment.