The Constructed Self


Karen Navarro

The Constructed Self


© Karen Navarro


The Constructed Self is a collection of 14 puzzling portraits which utilise collage to represent the crossover of multiple themes that work to form our definition of identity. This body of work has been widely exhibited as physical sculptures and is now making it’s way onto the blockchain as digital assets. The artwork addresses self-representation, race, gender and belonging within first, second, and third-generation American immigrants.

Fine Art Photographer Karen Navarro uses digital photography to initially capture the eye-catching portraits before moving onto a labour intensive process of transforming the traditional prints into individual sculptures. Although she doesn’t appear within the artworks, Navarro describes the body of work as self-reflective as the arduous technique gives her time to reflect on how she defines her own identity. 

As an immigrant from Latin America, as well as a descendant of Indigenous Peoples from the South, Navarro maintains a priority to showcase diversity within her models. She uses the collection as an opportunity to reframe the representation of historically marginalised identities.

Once Navarro has photographed her models, she then manually cuts each print into a preconceived puzzling pattern before re-assembling them with a twist. The final product introduces a sculptural element not often found in photography.

4 pieces within the collection of 14 use a GIF format to introduce you to multiple configurations of the portrait. The GIFS swiftly flick through alignments resulting in the viewer pondering the permanence of identity. The primal goal of the project is to encourage the viewer to challenge their own biases by boldly highlighting the complexities that combine to make any given identity. The combinations are vast, which defines you?

About Karen Navarro

Karen Navarro is an Argentine-born multidisciplinary artist currently living and working in Houston. Navarro works on a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her image-based work and multimedia practice investigate the intersections of identity, self-representation, race, gender, and belonging. Navarro has a background in fashion design and completed the certificate program in photography at the Houston Center for Photography.

Her constructed portraits are known for pushing the boundaries of traditional photography and the use of color. Navarro has won numerous awards and grants for her mixed-media photography, among them the Artadia Fellowship, the Top Ten Lensculture Critics’ Choice Award, and the HCP Beth Block Honoraria, and has been shortlisted for several more, including the Photo London Emerging Photographer of the Year Award and The Royal Photographic Society, IPE 163.

Her work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Selected shows include Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), USA; Galerija Upuluh, Zagreb, Croatia; Holocaust Museum Houston, USA; Artpace, San Antonio, USA; Melkweg Expo, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Houston Center for Photography, Houston, USA; and Museo de la Reconquista, Tigre, Argentina. Navarro’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including ARTnews, The Guardian, Observer, Rolling Stone Italia, and Photo Vogue Festival Italia.

Read more about Karen and see her other projects at and follow her on twitter @karennavarroph

The Constructed Self: #ConstructedSelf

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