Cheryle G. Galloway, born in Zimbabwe, is a US-based photographer. She lived in South Africa and Brazil, before settling in the US. After completing a BA in Communication Science and becoming a mother, Cheryle was drawn to the visual art of photography as a medium for story-telling and interpreting her experiences. Through self-learning and participating in a series of Leica Akademie workshops, Cheryle’s work was surrounding nature, street and portraiture. During COVID, her work transitioned into self-portraiture allowing her to tell more personal stories; exploring issues of identity, gender and race. Some work from her self-portrait series exploring grief and loss, “The Stranger Who Was Yourself” was shown at The Brick Lane Gallery in London in October 2021. Cheryle’s work has also been shown in Praxis Gallery, The Glasgow Gallery of Photography and the Los Angeles Center of Photography. As a woman, and particularly as a woman of color, Cheryle is focused primarily on amplifying the conversation around women’s experiences surrounding femininity, womanhood, gender stereotypes and their effect on the individual through photographing her journey of self love and self discovery.
Artists Statement: In Her Wildest Dreams? “A lot of the time, being a girl in this world hurts,” says Australian feminist writer, broadcaster and public speaker, Clementine Ford. We are informed during socialization, in subtle and not so subtle ways, that acceptance of our womanhood is conditional, based on narrow ideals of femininity. We are told what femininity is supposed to be and do and look like and our value either increases or diminishes according to our size, skin colour, physical ability, economic status, biological sex and race. We are brought up to believe true fulfillment for women is becoming wives and mothers. We witness, and experience, men’s violence against women, the way our voices are silenced when we speak up; and, if we make it out alive, we know we are the lucky ones. It’s enough to make any woman lose her mind. This constructed idea of femininity excludes, devalues, diminishes and dehumanizes us, affecting women’s self-concept and agency. American author, professor, feminist, and social activist, bell hooks, says, “Young girls often feel strong, courageous, highly creative, and powerful until they begin to receive undermining sexist messages that encourage them to conform to conventional notions of femininity. To conform, they have to give up power.” As a young girl, I was always too much of one thing and not enough of another. I had an aching sense of inadequacy and a fractured sense of self stemming from my attempt to fit in. Later, I felt I had no right to exist outside of being someone’s wife and mother. I would look in the mirror and not see myself, haunted by the ghost of who I used to be. In this series of images, I want to embody this journey of feeling like I did not exist to asking the question what if women allowed themselves to deviate from the norms of femininity used to control and restrict them, to be and embrace all the things society would have them believe are unfeminine? Who is she in her wildest dreams? How would she feel? How would she view herself and, more importantly, what would she do? Journalist, activist, and co-founder of the National Organization for Women, Betty Friedan, says, when a woman stops “conforming to the conventional picture of femininity,” she will finally begin to enjoy being a woman. But, she may have to lose her mind first.