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Anne Dalke's picture
I’ve had a Serendip account for seven or eight years. A few years ago, when the “avatar” option emerged on the site, I selected this picture of myself, which suited me quite well for a long while: I liked my smiling, welcoming face, the face that went with my user name (which is my real name). I liked being out, claiming, as myself, what I said on-line.

Two years ago, however, I was co-teaching a cluster of courses called Women in Walled Communities, and some of the time we met in a women’s prison in Philadelphia. As a get-acquainted activity, we asked the “inside” women to pick an image to represent themselves, then printed off the avatars of all the BMC (or “outside”) women—and we had to go around and try to figure out who we were (we’re going to repeat this exercise ourselves on Thursday). But nobody wanted to talk to me, because it was so obvious who I was…. They were much more interested in figuring out who had chosen to represent herself with a cactus flower, or a bike, or an owl, or a beach…and why…

So last summer I decided to change up my avatar, make it something a little less mimetic, a little more mysterious and interesting, a little more inviting—in short--of conversation. I was designing a new ESem called Play in the City with Mark Lord @ that time, and I was selecting photographs I’d taken @ The Magic Garden on South Street to invite folks into our course web site. So I also selected the whimsical figure who is posed on the chimney atop the Garden to represent my on-line self. I like it that she’s outside, with the blue sky behind her; that she’s both riding a unicycle and seems to be wielding cooking utensils in both her hands; that a row of beautiful, randomly selected bottles are lined up in front of her; and that the sun is catching the mosaics just below.  I also like it very much that she’s been made out of recycled materials.

She just seems so…

Cheerful. Which I try to be.
And/but also a little risk-taking.
Posed on the edge. Which I am also….
And also a little strange, which…