"Self-Portrait with an Inflamed Esophagus." By Sally Fama Cochrane.
Oil on panel, 16” x 24”. November, 2013.
(Details of the face, trompe l’oeil painted mirror frame, and signature on the photo print out of an endoscopy below).
Portraits are meant to capture the likeness of a person, both inside and out. In this self-portrait I tried to play with that problem by describing my own experience with esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) caused by eosinophilic food allergies. We often think of people just as their exterior faces, but our experiences of ourselves is internal, and therefore we often overlook other people’s physical pain. In this painting, the esophagitis is represented by the photo print outs of the endoscopy exam and the eosinophil histology (cellular) slides decorating the shirt. The lipstick draws the line of the esophagus, which is usually hidden within our bodies. The problem of internal/external is reiterated in the trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) mirror frame, which I painted so that the question of what is inside or outside of the the painting is ambiguous, just as we should question what is “inside” or “outside” an individual.
Side note: my hands actually ARE that small. I have tiny freakish baby hands. I decided not to draw them to look normal because they’re “me” just as much as my bulbous chin and chicken pox scars.