“I felt a lot of students in my shoes could identify with this idea of being a beautiful ‘work in progress,’” says Sasha May ’12 of her Senior Reflective Tutorial project, “Wabi: The Beauty of Imperfection.” May’s photos invite us to reflect on the meaning of imperfection, self-image, and beauty.

By Sasha May '12

This project began as an appreciation of the “naturally different,” specifically in the area of self-image. As I began to study self-image (how people feel about themselves), I was inspired by a lecture given by our very own Provost Lily McNair. She spoke of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which is the art of finding beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

This caught me, because I felt a lot of students in my shoes could identify with this idea of being a beautiful “work in progress.” We are just starting our lives, and most of us have no clue where it can go. Thus was sparked my senior RFT art gallery, where I decided to combine ideas of negative self-image and expression of this concept of wabi-sabi through wabi specifically — wabi being the kind of perfect beauty that comes from imperfection.

Each model was asked to cover (using their hands) a part of their head that they were self-conscious about or uncomfortable with. … Models are then shown to be smiling; I'll leave the meaning up to you to decide.

My hope is that this show [exhibited at the Horrmann Library in May 2012] will be exhilarating and inspiring for all who take the time to experience it. The idea is to encourage everyone to learn to love that thing that annoys them about themselves and others, because no one is perfect, and flaws are nothing but individualistic beauty.

Click the images below to enlarge.



About Sasha May: She graduated from Wagner College as a chemistry major, with a concentration in biochemistry, and a minor in art. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and raised there and in the Washington, D.C., area. She writes, “I discovered my love for art through photography in my sophomore year at Wagner College, and I hope to continue to share that love with others for as long as I can. My hopes are to be able to use my experiences in art and the sciences to aid pediatric oncology patients in restorative art therapy.” She is now the artist-in-residence at the Alice Austen House on Staten Island.