These Paintings Turn Selfies into Something Extraordinary

The selfie: instantaneous, ubiquitous, often hilarious, and utterly disposable. But Maria Tsaguriya ’09 sees value in those self-directed snapshots, noting parallels with portraits of yore.

“Traditional portraiture was something that was only affordable to higher classes,” she says. “Technology has allowed us to take a picture just about anywhere, instantly immortalizing ourselves.”

Unfortunately, she adds, “the trillions of others have lessened the value of each image.”

To elevate this lowly art form, Tsaguriya recently embarked on the Selfie Project, creating 100 pastel paintings on black paper based on selfies from friends and relatives. She hopes the project will restore some dignity to the selfie and show people its worth as a means of expression and communication.

“Although selfies can indicate a very narcissistic personality,” she says, “it can also be the way people claim their bodies and be ‘real’ and allow people into their personal life.”

We hope you enjoy these pairings of portrait and selfie as much as we do.



Maria Tsaguriya, Fine Arts ’09, has been an artist in Brooklyn for the past eight years. In addition to translating photographic realism into pastel paintings, she makes paintings and sculpture from recycled art supplies and trash, and she founded Chalk Up!, a program that brings groups of artists to clean up and enliven dirty, run-down blocks in Brooklyn. She has also participated in collective art projects at the New Museum and for Figment NYC, a forum for creating interactive public art.