Artwork / Archives / Swollen / Wedding

before and after portraits of a woman who got married
Gwenn Seemel
Before and After: Wedding
2006 and 2007
acrylic on bird’s eye piqué
30 x 54 inches (combined dimensions)

When I first set about looking for subjects for Swollen, I wasn’t certain that marriage should count as a transition. When I started these paintings, I had been in a serious relationship for only a little bit, so I didn’t really understand just how much marriage can mean, but I do now, specifically because it took my partner and I over eight years to decide to get married.

I met David in 2005 and included our story in this series of portraits of men I met online—this is our diptych from that collection. We dated for two years and then lived together for another six and a half before marrying. When we did finally tie the knot, countless people revealed something of their own life story to us by saying things like “about time!” And “it doesn’t change much for the two of you, does it?” They only said those things because they don’t understand what it means for two people who’ve been through good times and bad together with nothing keeping them there decide that they’re ready to commit. Let me tell you: it happens just when it’s supposed to and it makes all the difference.

I’m glad I understand more of what the subject of Before and After: Wedding went through, and I’m so pleased I decided to include her in the series. What follows is the text originally displayed with this diptych. It describes the earth change that I chose as an analogy for this woman’s transition.

Comets from far out in space delivered our planet’s water content. Through extraordinary coincidence, the conditions on earth combined with the comets’ contribution made the earth what it is today. Maybe comets aren’t so bad after all.

painterly portrait
detail image
painterly portrait
detail image