[ IN PROGRESS ]
I met Cale Coduti at the beginning of this semester, somehow we have not one class together but three. Cale is a BFA in the drawing and painting program at Penn State. He is soft spoken and gentle but adventurous and spontaneous at the same time. In his work Cale explores identity and the idea of dual personalities while challenging how we are perceived versus how we want to be perceived by others. As a gay man at a large university like Penn State, Cale uses his paintings as a place to express himself. He photographs friends, family members and strangers and then uses those photos as the inspiration for his paintings. For his upcoming senior BFA show, all of his paintings are of drag queens he has met over the last two years, including a few self portraits of himself also in drag. He often walks around the BFA studios dressed in drag, channeling the characters that appear in his paintings.
The night that I showed up in his studio to photograph his painting process he had a large white sheet laid out on the floor of his studio and six containers of fine grain silver glitter. He told me he was starting a new series focused on skin (instead of hair and wigs which is what his past work has focused on). His plan was to cover his entire body in glitter, photograph himself just like he photographs his subjects, and he wanted me to document the whole thing.
This was not what I expected to come into that evening. I thought my photographs would have been more direct and of the actual painting process, however I’m so happy it took this turn instead. There was something so special and emotional about the physical process that built the idea of the painting. It took him over an hour to glitter his body. I watched him add a layer of glittered skin and three hours later I watched him peel it off. I saw an entirely new side of Cale that night, when it came to his art and an environment he was comfortable in/a skin he was comfortable in –