Professor Mojica 17 June 2018 MAFAH (Cynthia) Chuck Ramirez’s MFAH (Cynthia) presents an Image of a handbag and provides insight into arguably what is one of the most private sectors of a female outside of their mind itself. It is not, however, meant to marginalize or presume the essence of who the subject is based on the content of their bag. Rather, Ramirez provides a glimpse of the many facets of their sense of self. Presenting an intimate window from which the audience may look in without passing judgment. Chuck Ramirez accomplishes this by using visual and conceptual techniques found in contemporary graphic design as a way of having familiar objects represent something more profoundly human and a different aspect of the subject’s personality and real life experience. Ramirez’s work is titled MAFAH (Cynthia), named after the owner of the handbag depicted in his print. At first glance the bag seems to be overflowing with items haphazardly stuffed together until one of the flaps of the bag doubles over from the weight. The bag itself is a vibrant red each detail noticeable down to the finest stitch. While the contents of the bag seems to have no significance upon further inspects there are items ranging from the practical to the religious, a melting pot of different ideologies. A slyly placed pamphlet with the words NAFAH serve as the artist’s signature. In spite of the handbags elegance and detail it becomes quite obvious that Ramirez’s predominant focus was the content within the bag itself. A pair of worn working gloves, a snow globe from Paris and the cork from a spent bottle of wine, mundane items that form in direct opposition to the quality of the bag. The visual and expressive elements used by Ramirez are mesmerizing.. While the print itself is two dimensional, the artists masterly manipulates color, light and shadow with the variation of lines and organic shapes of the bag to create a vibrant three dimensional effect. The contrasting between the shadows near the pair of gloves crossest to the lower foreground giving the appearance of a bag that is slightly tilted in your direction, while the top of the print is cast in less shadow giving it the bag a more subtle curve and the appearance of volume. The negative space around the print only serves to solidify the three-dimensional effect even furthered while also drawing even more attention to the space and items inside the bag itself. What truly animates this photo of something so mundane is the implied intimacy, the nonchalant way the handbag is left open prompting the viewer to investigate even as social etiquette has conditioned us to look away. Upon further inspection its obvious that many of the items were placed deliberately either by the owner or Ramirez himself not as a way to fool the audience but possibly more of a method to truly capture a more accurate portrait of the owner. The strength of this technique also lends to the limitations of the medium itself. While digital print recreates every detail flawlessly with such vibrant expression of color, it tends to give a hyper realism that begins to looks staged an unreal to the human eye. The more I observed the print, the more I found myself needing to be reminded that it was a photo and not graphically simulated or a hyper realistic painting from the mind of imagination. Especially in areas where color saturation was at its deepest, the edges of the handbag, the blue ribbon that seemed to inexplicably shimmer depending on where I stood, the deep brown of the worn leather gloves and the edge of a yellow glasses case all became a bit of a distraction as I was half expecting them to fall out of the bag at any moment. However, this hyper realistic unease adds to the intimacy a reminder that the audience in this instance is tuning in on something that traditionally is very personal and to not feel to comfortable doing it often and without permission. A woman’s purse has always had somewhat of mystique around it. Almost acting as an extension of the woman herself, a representation of her style the handbag representing the “ outer layer” the image of ones self that is presented to the outside world, while the content within represents “inner self” each item representing a different facet that is rarely seen all at once but caught in glimpses by the lucky few. Each item seems meaningless when viewed separately, But taken together you begin to form a deeper understanding of who Cynthia is. Chuck Ramirez’s NAFAH (Cynthia), while being presented as a digital print of inanimate objects, is more representative of a self portrait each object bringing the viewer a deeper more intimate understanding of the subject. In a time where gender equality is such a hot button issue pieces like these serve to humanize us all and bridge the gap that threatens to keep us apart.