Emma McWaid is a fourth year studying Fine Art and Sociology at UCSC. Emma’s studies inspire her to find balance between individual and collective identity and to discover better ways for people to understand each other. Emma has often struggled containing the intense ups and downs she feels as a highly sensitive human, as well as finding her place in the world as queer woman. She relies on the relationships formed with others to help mediate her own euphoria and depression. This balance is continuously unfolding and evolving as is her identity, which lies somewhere at the intersection of femininity and queerness.
Her work is based on this evolution, the emotional baggage of human beings, and the ways in which we learn to lean on one another. Using photography and sculptural installations, Emma makes portraits of the people in her life that she has formed deep connections with, as well as self portraiture. She hopes to gain a better understanding of people’s place in the world, and how our deepest feelings dictate our perception of place as well as the need for human connection. Her work is a collaborative social practice, capturing images of people along with the level of intimacy in their relationships. Emma’s work is an open invitation to participate in the intimacy and unfolding conversations of her practice.
Ambivalence series (2020)
Each of us is ever changing; being reborn again and again into different versions of ourselves as we continue to evolve. Constant adaptations are made in order to survive comfortably in our skin; shedding layers of past selves that we are growing apart from while still clinging to certain pieces that we will never be able to let go of. I am exploring the internal conflicts that exist with the growing pains that arise with the complexity of identity. Being born into a human body gives us no choice but to be a living contradiction, clinging to our past while being forced to keep moving forward.
By overlaying multiple images, I am representing how sticky the past can be. My mother’s cross necklace she gave me when I was eight years old is shown here because although I no longer follow the Catholic beliefs I grew up with, they will continue to exist as a part of me forever. The multiple locations I photographed myself in, as well as the different physical representations of my body, are autobiographical explorations of what home is to me, and how this changes with growth. This series speaks to the layers of time and place, past and present, sexuality and faith, euphoria and depression. I am so many people at once, but thankfully, identity is fluid and we have unlimited chances to metamorphosize into the most authentic version of ourselves.
The 2020 Irwin Scholars are
Aarón Martínez, Anastasia Oleson, Angel Gonzales, Chloe Murr, Dominic Ramirez, Edgar Cruz, Emma McWaid, Jocelyn Lee, Joshua Zupan, Morgan Tomfohr, Natalie Del Castillo, Rodrigo Ramos, Veriche Blackwell