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What I Be: Defiant Portraits of Deepest Insecurities by Steve Rosenfeld

What I Be: Defiant Portraits of Deepest Insecurities by Steve Rosenfeld

Most of us spend our lives trying to cover up our deepest insecurities. Artist Steve Rosenfield has people write them on their bodies. Started in 2010, “What I Be” is a project about individuals’ bravery to reveal their inner fears and resist society’s expectation that we always present our edited and positive best self.

Artist Steven Rosenfeld

Steve Rosenfield wasn’t always a self-aware artist, in fact he admits that until 12 years ago he had a huge ego and was extremely materialistic. Rosenfield elaborates on the effects of this mindset:

I never opened up and that created a lack in my relationships where people were scared to open up to me because they saw me as “blunt”. I eventually started to realize how unhappy I truly was so I started reading and journaling and further understanding that, in order to be happy, I needed to be more open and honest with people. I needed to be more compassionate which, in turn, made people feel safe around me because I was open to them.”

Steve Rosenfeld
I am not my satisfaction.

After quitting his job, traveling the world, deepening his relationships, and learning photography, Rosenfeld started to wonder how he could truly make a difference in people’s lives. In his own words:

Although being able to photograph people and make a living off it was so amazing, I wanted to do something with my passion that had more meaning. Something that would touch peoples souls.”

Steve Rosenfeld
I am not my identity

And that’s how the “What I Be” project came to happen. Each portrait begins with the statement: “I am not my_____,” These insecurities are then written directly on the subject’s face. The idea is to share deep insecurities without actually showing them, instead having the subject looking defiantly into the camera. In the end, it’s empowering and humanistic look at a hidden emotional landscape which we all have but rarely show.

I am not my appearance.

While the project includes big names like Trevor HallNorah JonesBen HowardJoss StoneMacklemore and Ryan Lewis,  The Chainsmokers, it’s often the lesser-known portraits I found intriguing. Like when a person off the street opens up in an unexpected way and you find compassion and see a bit of yourself in a stranger.

I am not my sexuality.

Subjects range the gamut of human experiences from emotional topics such as anger, anxiety and depression to body issues such as trans, fertility, sexuality and disability, or culture such as race issues, religion and acceptance. Everyone can find something they relate to as well as something that pushes their boundaries.

I am not my depression.
I am not my fatherhood.
I am not my marriage.
I am not my disease.
I am not my Asianness.
I am not my anxiety.
I am not my stubbornness.
I am not my self harm.
I am not my ego.
I am not my authenticity.

It is an ongoing project so please check out the What I Be website for more portraits and information.

Painting in Excel Art with Tatsuo Horiuchi
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