Pleasure Dome Projects

When and why did you first start the Pleasure Dome Project?

 I started the Pleasuredome Project just over a year ago. I created the page because I had been posting self portraits on my ‘regular life’ page and was receiving a ton of pushback about the images from friends and family. I found that shocking, honestly, and quite disappointing. I decided to create a space where I could explore the art of self portraiture and have a creative outlet. 

The impetus for taking self portraits was slightly more specific. I had recently turned fifty years old. I had spent the majority of the pandemic very ill with an autoimmune disease that had knocked me to my knees a few months before everything shut down. I was feeling very low. To cap it off, when I had my fiftieth birthday, I was told in so many words (and by society at large) that I was no longer desirable or even visible. Particularly in the United States, aging women become less and less celebrated as sensual beings, becoming more invisible in the world as each year passes. I found this enraging. I also found that I had acquiesced to this kind of thinking. I no longer saw myself as a vibrant, creative, sensuous being. I wanted to change that. All of that. I have been photographing others for the past decade, but not myself, so it seemed a good medium and time in which to explore. 

What do you find the most challenging part of creating your photos?

Finding the time and space to create. I have two teenage sons, who are mostly horrified by my creative endeavors, though they do understand my need for creative outlets. Life is crazy. I have a fantasy that I could have an extra day in the week, just for creating. 

Self-Portrait 2013 – Copyright – Pleasure Dome Project

Where do you find your inspiration for your photos?

I am inspired by so many artists! I find inspiration in the works of Nan Goldin, Man Ray, Annie Libovitz, Vivian Maier, just to name a few. Nowadays, I find inspiration in the work of the artists I have befriended and follow on instagram. It is a rough platform for art, particularly with the censorship issues, arbitrary algorithms, and sexist rules-  but it is also a good place to find other artists and creatives.

Is there anything you want to tell everyone that your photos don’t say?

They don’t always say what I am frightened of. What I want to hide- but that is also why I take them. I take them to get closer to the truth of myself. Illuminate the parts that live in the dark. Sometimes- that seems impossible. 

Another side that I don’t share: I am a classically trained actor. I attended The Juilliard School in New York City when I was young and played on Broadway. I was forced to quit, when I suffered a terrible, career ending injury when I was 27. It broke my heart and for a time, my creative soul. I felt like I lived in the dark during those years- I am very grateful to be feeling the spark of creative fire again. Very grateful. 

I am a Shakespeare nut and have just reentered the world of theater again in this past year. I am preparing (if life doesn’t intervene) to play Lady Macbeth in a production in Kathmandu, Nepal! It has been very healing and so exciting to find that my love for theater has not waned over the years, but has solidified and grown deeper.

Queen Elizabeth I at Juilliard in Fredrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart – Copyright – Pleasure Dome Project

Some very talented artists have captured you. How did that come about?

What a surprise!!!!! I would never have thought that I would be an art model for such amazing artists, or at all! When I was twenty, I was asked to live model in New York City- and I was too afraid, I never followed through and I’ve always regretted it. About six months into the Pleasuredome Project, I started to receive pieces from artists who had used my photos as references. Over time, more artists have captured me. Every time I see a piece, I am floored. It is such a strange and wonderful experience to see yourself through another’s eyes. 

Say an artist would like to capture you; what is the best way for them to contact you?

The easiest way is through the message section of Instagram. Though, sometimes it takes me some time to get to messages. I try to be timely, but I also try to keep my time online limited. I am working on a website, to offer an alternative place to connect. 

24 years old shoot with NYC photographer for Mexican Vogue – Copyright – Pleasure Dome Project

Being captured in only one medium (Drawn, Painted, Cast, Sculpted, Photographed), which one would you choose and why?

That is a hard question. I would love to be photographed by someone else someday, but I think Sculpted would be incredible. I am drawn to the visceral, tactile quality of sculpture. 

If you plan your perfect self-photoshoot without restrictions, what would it be?

I am absolutely inspired by nature and the drama of it.  It is a constant inspiration for me. I would love to shoot in the forest or by the coast. I do have ideas that I’d love to explore.

Self-Portrait 2022 – Copyright – Pleasure Dome Project

What camera do you use to capture your images, and how do you edit them?

I take my photographs of other people and things with a DSLR camera. However, I have found that I take most of my self portraits with my iphone. Mostly this is due to the quick nature of the pictures. If I have an afternoon or some amount of time to set up a shot, then I prefer my camera, but I gotta say that the camera in the phone is pretty spectacular. I think what I like about an actual camera is the limitations of the viewfinder- I like that it restricts the image- that you have to be specific- see the shot before you take it. Often with a phone- the shot is way more open- it captures too much sometimes- so that you have to find the specificity in the edits. With editing- I am simple. I do very little to change my images. I adjust light to bring me closer to the feeling I want to evoke, but that’s about it. I leave the photoshopping to others. 

Do you have any goals you want to achieve in the next 2 years? 

I am looking to turn that spark of creative energy into a raging fire. Like a Phoenix, rise from the ashes of my despair and creative death, and live in the swirl of wind created by the wings of the others around me- lifting and inspiring. That sounds totally nutso! Well, so be it. I feel like I am alive when I am creating- whether it is through photography, dance, or theater- and I want to LIVE.

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