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within and without: wonderings of a sheeted figure


Within and Without: Wonderings of a Sheeted Figure


Physical containers full of intangible wonder, we are ever held in realms of tension: feeling/intellect, imagination/reality, past/present/future... Fascinated by these frail liminalities of human being, I long to more fully understand myself, others, and the world surrounding me. The aim of my work is to thus empathize with the human spirit and affirm its being in spite of, and in awe of, its many inconsistencies, misgivings, and glories.


The Sheeted Figure was first discovered while I was studying photography in graduate school. As an internally-based person, I found myself troubled by the medium’s persistent attachment to appearances. So, in an act of defiance, mingled with a touch of wit and humor, I covered myself in a sheet and sat before a camera. The resulting image appeased the camera with a pleasing arrangement of light and shadow, while it also denied the presentation of myself as a mere surface. I was on to something.


In continuing explorations, the Sheeted Figure’s hands and feet are often shown, informing viewers that he is not a ghost, but a real, flesh-and-blood person, one engaged with his environments—though he remains largely hidden. Furthermore, the sheet obstructs not only the viewer’s sight, but his own. His intention is to better understand the world through other, perhaps more meaningful, means of knowing, even as he himself wants, and needs, to be known.

© 2017 Jon Lynn McCallum