Guest Writer and Artist: Kendra Schellenberg
I shot the lovely Kendra in my studio for an Intimate Portrait Boudoir Session in my Vancouver boudoir studio and upon her hiring me, she shared an artistic idea that she wanted to create. But, she needed images of herself to do it. Enter moi! Kendra is so talented and is now sharing with us below just how her beautiful artistic creations came into being. Thank you Kendra for contributing your story and your amazing artwork with us. Not to mention beautiful you!
The Origins of BloomingBodies
The idea came to me one day while I was sitting on our rooftop patio, watching the clouds roll by. It’s a space I often go to when I have an idea to contemplate. On this particular day, I was thinking about my business. It was coming up to the one-year anniversary of the shift from being an artist with a day-job, to being a full-time artist (a shift that was only somewhat voluntarily — my position as an airbrush artist at a playground manufacturer disappeared in 2020).
It had been a big year of change, needless to say, and I was trying to figure out what kind of work I ultimately wanted to be doing. I was taking all sorts of online business courses for creatives and the biggest question they were asking was to outline your WHY. It felt huge and overwhelming and scary AF to answer.
I’ve been creating artwork professionally for many years; I graduated with a BFA in visual arts in 2016 and in my practice have always been drawn to creating work about the feminine experience, body, identity, and the intersections between them. I’ve been creating a series of figure studies that connect the feminine body to nature and explore its innate connection to the life cycle, death and rebirth. But what was next?
What Was Next?
It was that day on the roof that it occurred to me that the next step was to use photos of my own body. After all, the biggest reason I make art about the body is because I’ve always had a… touch-and-go relationship with my own, to say the least.
Now, I could have set up my own camera and done a shoot myself. But better yet I thought, would be to go through the process of a photography session with a professional photographer. The process of entering into a space of vulnerability, of confronting those nasty things my inner voice says about my own reflection and most importantly, the deliberate choice to not listen to them and to at the very least pretend to love my body for a whole day, was essential to the process.
Choosing A Photographer to Become Art
I jumped on the computer and pulled up about twenty tabs of local photographers. Amongst those tabs was one in particular that leapt out to me immediately: “You’re a f’ing work of ART.” It was like Michele was speaking directly to me, and needless to say: she was speaking my language. It felt like kismet!
Above my computer is a sticky note I had written at some point during the contemplation of my Big Why that reads: “I want to help people cultivate RESILIENCE.” I believe that that is exactly what Michele’s work does, and I am so delighted to be able to collaborate with her and create together from the space she holds for her clients to connect with their bodies — a space of self-acceptance and self-love.
I transformed the photos from my shoot with Michele into portraits of resilience and called them BloomingBodies. They’re inky figurative floral paintings of a body settled in the understanding of its own strength and unique beauty. These paintings honour the power of the feminine, and celebrate moments of spiritual growth and self-acceptance.
In a world that can often feel like it’s pushing us to see the worst in ourselves and in our bodies, celebrating those bodies becomes an act of resistance. I invite you to join me in this quiet rebellion. Become a BloomingBody yourself! Commission a piece of original art inspired by your photoshoot with Michele and you’ll be able to hang your celebration of self on your walls as an everyday reminder that you’re a f’ing work of art.
~ Written by Kendra Schellenberg
Wow! Kendra, you are so talented and I’m thrilled that you selected me to capture you pretending to love your body. And I absolutely LOVE LOVE this act of rebellion. Thank YOU for doing this and sharing your beautiful artwork of beautiful YOU.
To book a commissioned piece by Kendra, click here!
I Look Forward To Having
You In My Vancouver Boudoir
And Portrait Studio!
Michele Mateus is an award winning Vancouver Boudoir and Women’s Portrait Photographer. Serving Coquitlam, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Langley, Abbotsford, Squamish, Burnaby, Surrey, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, New Westminster and the Great Vancouver area.