What word or phrase would be
absolutely true about you;
but not obvious to strangers?
With her camera, body paint, and the quest to explore how people choose to show themselves to the world, Katheryn Trenshaw—photographer, documentarian, and artist— approaches total strangers and asks: What is true of you that is not obvious to strangers?
After conferring with Katheryn and consulting with their hearts, those who agree to participate choose a word (or phrase) that reveals something about themselves that is unknown to others. Katheryn then paints the word on the skin of the person and photographs them. The result is as moving as it is unexpected.
Her background in art, psychology, and language allows her to connect with her subjects on a variety of levels. This multi-layered perspective comes through to the viewers of her moving photographs. Over the past year, Katheryn has created nearly 150 portraits of subjects from more than thirty countries and all walks of life. Each photograph documents a personal story.
Katheryn Trenshaw shares this about the In Your Own Skin Project:
“Some years ago during a silent retreat I had an epiphany. I realized that the greatest treasure I hold is buried deep inside the thing I least want anyone to know about. Within this wound inside of me lay a rich treasure trove. I was a living paradox and the sooner I could learn to dance with this, the sooner I could unabashedly share my gifts.
I have been inspired by the work of many, especially Brené Brown. She comes from a social work research background and began wanting to know more about what makes us happy. She teamed up with neurobiologists and other researchers and basically discovered that if you want to look at happiness you need to look at shame. Happiness is directly linked with reducing shame, and this takes us to vulnerability, authenticity and ultimately to resilience in transition / changing times.
As an artist, I have specialized all of my professional life in the masks we wear, and am passionate about ritualistic mark making on skin and bodies. Breaking the Silence was a body or work I created consisting of 100 masks that toured the United States and Europe for over 15 years. It was all about revealing our true nature and looking at what we conceal and has had a huge influence on my subsequent work, life and respect for peoples traditions throughout the World.
I’ve always been fascinated with “shadow” material, the taboo that no one wants to speak about. I tend toward, what Robert Bly calls “our shadow bags”: Sex, death, money, and power. These more hidden aspects of ourselves hold great treasures and vitality when they are freed.
These elements combine to create what is now the In Your Own Skin project: A community multimedia art project, connecting us all by revealing hidden truths from around the world. With your participation we can create the powerful 1st documentary short to share the normally hidden wealth of wisdom that unites us all. And I have to say that I haven’t been so passionate about anything since the birth of my son.”
The overall project as described by Katheryn:
This In Your Own Skin documentary short is about nothing short of unlocking human potential and joy. I’ve seen the potential for human beings to share in such a powerful openhearted way. The further I go into this project, the more I trust our deep intelligence. I experience people being genuinely authentic. We are living differently now in these challenging times. We are living more and more in community and in ways that we really support each other.
Projects like this one and the others I have created ( like my Breaking the Silence Project) show that love always trumps fear.
I am passionate about this project! I love every minute of this mad and wonderful process: creating these ways to reveal and share our hidden stories with each other. I love how this process can weave into the every day aspects of my life, parenting, community and travels. I recently was reminded of the obvious… that the meaning of life is to find your gift and the purpose of life is to give that gift. Each of the In Your Own Skin portraits gives a gift and reveals a part of each of us. Now that is worth getting up for in the morning! I am so very grateful.
To learn more about the In Your Own Skin ProjectYou can visit the following web sites:
Kick Starter Fund Raising site –