Taylor Shipton, assistant graphic design professor at Penn state won a gold award in the Graphics Photography competition 2021 for her work that examines the history of rape culture. Her submission features the portraits of two women - Leda and Medusa in Greek mythology, raped by the Olympian gods.
Shipton says, she drew inspiration from her interest in women’s studies and from looking at history and old texts, which she “dissects from a woman’s perspective.” According to her, old texts are often written from the male gaze, where rape is frequently glorified.
Her Portrait photograph aims to retell the classical stories from the female gaze. And to bring attention to the fact that rape often goes unpunished back in history and even today, she states.
Further, she said, we are so heavily influenced today from what we have read and passed on. Part of her goal is to focus on the ongoing erasure of women’s voices and trying to project empathy on to people.
Shipton’s portrait was selected as the winner among 300 submissions in this year graphics photography contest. Her passion for photography stems from the idea that photographs can shape people’s perception while also eliciting empathy from an audience.
For Shipton, the attention her project received is encouraging as it shows how perspectives are changing in society.
“To be able to see that my portraits are receiving appreciation says to me that people are listening to women and seeing their perspective of things instead of focusing solely on the perspective of men,” she said. “It’s nice to see that progression, and I hope to continue to contribute to its expansion.”