photographing new york city teen girls in their bedrooms
"I wanted to highlight how powerful women are while they're in their most personal and private space."
Teenage bedrooms are mystical places. With the door slammed shut (a "Do Not Enter" sign tacked to the front), bedrooms can be safe spaces. They are one of the few sanctuaries girls have to escape expectations and prejudice and just, well, exist.
Which is why photographer Lacy Wood, a recent graduate from the School of Visual Arts, devoted months to capturing the bedrooms of girls across New York City. "Each girl that I photographed has a story to tell that needs to be heard," Wood tells i-D. "I feel so privileged every day to be surrounded by strong women, which is what motivates me to keep going every single day."
Wood captures her female subjects on their own terms. Many of the girls lay relaxed on their beds, staring straight at the camera. In Nana's room, the abundance of the color pink matches the bubbly smile on her face. On the corner of her desk sits a protest sign that reads, "Liberate the Black Woman," the serious fight for social justice contrasting the lightheartedness of her room.
Wood talked to i-D about what it was like to enter girls' refuges — being privy to unguarded moments, like an explosive argument between a subject's boyfriend and her friend — and how President Trump's attacks on women's rights are motivating her to keep creating.
Since this series is titled "The Girl's Room," what does "girlhood" mean to you?
One of the most important things about girlhood is holding on to the things that are important to you. It's about learning to fight for what you want and standing up for yourself. Girlhood is also discovering who you are and who you want to become, regardless of what other people might think or say. As a female, you should allow yourself to dream big, remain tenacious, and, most of all, protect what is yours.
There's a lot of dialogue around women's rights currently, how have you used your art to add to the conversation?
All I can say is now, more than ever, women really need to stay together and support each other in any way possible. For me, the way I show support and celebrate the strength of women is through photography. I've learned that you don't need to shout to be heard and that art has a voice of its own.
How did you first get into photography?
The very first camera I owned was an Olympus Stylus Epic that my dad gave me when I was in second grade. I didn't know how to use it and wasn't that interested in photography then, so I just shoved it in a drawer. When I was 19, I dug up the camera and brought it with me to New York. That's when I started photographing everything around me. It's my favorite medium because it acts as documentation, or some kind of proof that my friends and I were once here, together, making our mark in New York City.
How did you meet your subjects?
I handpicked each individual that I felt would be a positive contribution. They range from a competitive boxer to a baker to a psychology student to someone who works in a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. I wanted to highlight how powerful women are while they're in their most personal and private space. Each female has unique experiences that I wanted to share.
What was the most memorable bedroom you photographed?
Probably Sonia's room. Her boyfriend was going in and out of the apartment and he kept arguing in the living room with one of her friends, so there was a lot going on that was distracting. In a weird way, I think it made the environment more comfortable. I took almost 200 photographs at her apartment, but when I looked at this one on the computer I knew it was the one.
What is your relationship to your own bedroom?
I live in the East Village with my roommate and the apartment is absolutely tiny. My bedroom is literally the size of a closet, but I feel so lucky to have my own space and have learned to make the most of it. Almost every square inch of my bedroom walls are covered in photographs of friends, magazine tear-outs, and postcards. My bedroom almost acts as a mini gallery and art space — which is why I love the concept of a bedroom. You are the curator of your own space.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I'm not entirely sure. I just graduated college recently, so now I'm entering the "real world" (as everyone calls it). I always tell myself, regardless of what happens in the future, I will never stop taking pictures. So, to answer the question, in 10 years I hope to have a giant archive of photographs that capture the wide range of individuals that I have come across.
Text André-Naquian Wheeler
Photography Lacy Wood