Emma Dorst was born in Olathe, Kansas in 2001 and raised in Osawatomie and Manhattan. They predominantly work in film photography using a 4x5 view camera. Much of Emma's work surrounds the idea of the body, others'- and their own, and how it is perceived in our current culture. These ideas are often explored through self-portraiture. Emma is based in Lawrence, Kansas where they are working towards getting their Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas. They expect to graduate in 2023 from the photography program. Emma is also currently working as a Photography Lab Aide in the university's darkroom.
I became aware of how others view my body around the age of six. I had one of my mother’s t-shirts on as a nightgown and had put one of my arms through the neck hole; half of my chest was showing. When I walked into the living room my dad saw me and immediately covered his eyes, acting appalled at his young child’s body. I didn’t know why until I asked my mom later and she explained that some parts of your body are private. It was a huge concept for such a young child to try to understand. I was confused and hurt because suddenly, my body wasn’t acceptable, and I didn’t understand why. Ever since then that sense of awareness is what has stuck with me the most: How my body is perceived by others, how I perceive my body, and what those perceptions can do to me.
The work I make focuses on these questions in hopes that I can understand more about views and opinions people have on bodies through looking at my own. My work is predominantly photographic self-portraiture. I feel the best way to understand and truly see myself is by making work where I must confront and embrace myself fully. Making work like this serves as a form of healing for me. It is recovering from that first moment of realization in childhood, and all the negative effects of it since. By changing the ways of thinking that I was fed from a young age, I begin to heal myself, and I hope others that see themselves in my work can start healing too.