I first read an article about Elle Muliarchyk in the New York Times in 2006. I had just started my junior year of high school and was still in that gawky, awkward phase of my earlier youth. In those years I would trip over my feet, bury my nose in science fiction, and dream about my creative vision (which I was too self-conscious to share with the world). It was in the midst of this stage that I came across this photograph (above) by Elle Muliarchyk.
The New York Times called her work “Pretty Larceny”. The article states, ” Elle Muliarchyk is an artist, and what she steals are fashion moments.” She explores “that highly ambivalent space, the dressing room… a space that’s not public but not exactly private, either. Here, we strip both physically and emotionally, trying on clothes as well as personae. And while we hope for a metamorphosis — into someone thinner, sexier, richer, different — harsh lighting and awkward angles too often force us to confront the nauseous schism between fantasy and reality.”
I found these images at once seductive and rebellious. Awkward teenage Claire wanted to grow up to be just like this woman who had the courage to snap pictures of herself in dressing rooms. I wanted to try on a new self, once that included a heck of a lot more confidence and creativity.
When the article recounted her guerilla adventures, being discovered by sales clerks, even being kicked out of boutiques for taking pictures, I swooned over her bravery and beauty. I ripped the article out and saved it. I still have it.
It has taken many years (seven, to be specific) for me to work up the confidence to photograph myself for artistic and stylistic purposes. I still often feel the urge to blend in. Muliarchyk was one of the first people to inspire me. Her work encouraged me to take the creative path I find myself on now.
I went searching for her online when I decided to write this post- I found her blog here. She is still taking amazing photographs.