Icons : Women Workers is an ongoing series of interactive video portraits aiming to create a gesture-based movement dialogue between a viewer and digital portrait, while investigating a  new iconography of women in the workplace. A hybrid of documentary and staged imagery, with symbolism drawn from varied religious and spiritual sources, the work blurs performativity with the reality of the women’s working lives. The objects shown below the portraits, significant to each woman’s working life, as well as the hand positions (mudras), were chosen in collaboration with each portrait subject.

This project is in dialogue with contemporary artists such as Sam Taylor-Wood and Kehinde Wiley, who have explored visual references to Renaissance and Baroque paintings and religious altarpieces, both structurally, using the predella (the bottom panel containing images which supplement the narrative of the portrait above), and using the Icon format found in Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

images from left:

ICON: Malliron Hodge, Senior Program Director in Women’s Leadership, Newcomb College Institute, Tulane University; New Orleans, Louisiana

ICON: Jeanne Firth, Assistant Director, Grow Dat Youth Farm; PhD Fellow, London School of Economics; New Orleans, Louisiana

ICON: Courtney Harvey, Director of Operations, Women Moving Millions; New York City

ICON: Claire Graves, Resident Physician, General Surgery, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center; New York City

ICON: Sister Alison McCrary, Social Justice Lawyer; Community-Police Mediation Coordinator, New Orleans Police Department; Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph; New Orleans, Louisiana


The portraits in this exhibition were shot on green screen and at the workplace of each subject, in New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana. Initial prototypes generated interaction through a Chrome Web Browser using webm videos and the Leap Motion Gesture-based Interactive Controller with JavaScript API. The portraits incorporate repetitive movement loops which are triggered through interaction from the viewer, opening a physical communication pathway between living human user and responsive digital portrait.