Emma Shapiro is an American artist and feminist activist, founder of the international art project and movement Exposure Therapy. Her photographic work is focused on self-portraiture, to explore memory, empathy, and ancestry with and within the body.
“Self-portraiture is an act of therapy I perform for myself: a way to love, forgive and see myself clearly, but also a way to lose myself in time. I seek to represent the human and female form as a timeless event, ephemeral yet fixed through genealogical and physical memory. I see my body as a vessel for ancestral history — a link to family lost to anti-semitism and the Irish Famine — and thus a primal act of resistance against injustice, and a representation of hope. Growing up with body- and self-esteem issues, it wasn’t until I accidentally fell into art modeling that I finally relearned how to see my own body.
It was a revelation and totally liberating to know that I was valuable and beautiful and that a nude body is not just about sex.
My time as a professional art model changed me, and revolutionized my art practice– it was quite an easy step from there to become my own model. While I did not set out to be an activist artist, nevertheless my use of nudity in my work has made me so. The simple act of using my own body has pulled me into engaging with the objectification and censorship of the nude. Many of these images have garnered misunderstanding, body-shaming, and sexualization, all of which often bring the work into a contemporary dialogue on why we approach the nude skeptically and with embarrassment. My frustration with this has fueled my activism project Exposure Therapy, which can be found at @NIPeoPLE . The project uses the female nipple to empower anyone who seeks to end the oppression of the female body.“