WAUKESHA, WIS.— Ten years ago, photographer William Zuback, an instructor of art at Carroll University, was struck by the idea of forming perceptions about people while stopped behind them at a red light.
He said, “You begin to create your own reality of this person from the small amount of physical features you see, what kind of car they are driving, bumper stickers that might adorn the car and by what is hanging from the rear view mirror. You formulate an identity of this individual based on these tiny physical clues.”
His “Identity” photography project explores how people both judge and are judged by their looks, clothes, surroundings and possessions. It features two black-and-white photos of 33 individuals ranging in age and body type, shown both clothed and nude.
Zuback said he tried to keep himself out of the photographs, meaning he tried not to influence the participants with his own ideas of how they should pose. “I wanted to get a sense for how they saw themselves, how they feel they are perceived by others and how they, given the opportunity, wanted to be perceived or viewed by others.”
Two diptychs from Zuback’s series are now featured in the permanent art collection of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University. His exhibition catalog for “Identity” also is included in the institute’s library. The photos were first displayed at The Frank Juarez Gallery in Sheboygan, Wis., from Oct. 24 to Nov. 16, 2013.
Curator Catherine Johnson-Roehr was impressed by Zuback’s work, which she described as an “intriguing photographic project.” She compared it to “one of the institute’s most interesting shows,” called “The Shape of Us,” which exhibited a variety of individuals: large, small, young, old, able-bodied and disabled, tattooed and pierced, and augmented through plastic surgery.
The Kinsey Institute Gallery is one of the world’s largest collections of art, artifacts and photography for the study of human sexuality. It contains approximately 48,000 inventoried photographs dating from the 1870s to the present and coming from the United States and Europe (Britain, France, Germany and Italy, primarily). For more information, visit http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/library/index.html.
“Jane Doe no. 4” by William Zuback