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Maker(s):Mark, Mary Ellen
Culture:American (1940-2015)
Title:Shane and Shawn Riggins, 29 years old, Shane older by 3 minutes, Twinsburg, Ohio
Date Made:2001
Materials:Polaroid print
Measurements:Sheet: 28.125 x 22"; Image: 26.625 x 21.625"
Accession Number:  AC 2013.09
Credit Line:Purchase with Richard Templeton (Class of 1931) Photography Fund
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

In this black and white photograph, the subject is a pair of identical twins. The two men are starring straight into the camera and wearing the same floral button down shirt and dark jeans. Their heads are touching, they are holding hands, and both are standing at a side angle. However, the image is not perfectly symmetrical but rather loosely so, as there is a slight difference in posture and facial features.

Label Text:
“Great portrait photography captures the essence of the person or persons being photographed.” Mary Ellen Mark’s statement certainly applies to her photograph of Shane and Shawn Riggins, which she took as part of a series at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. For the project the artist worked with a large 20 x 24 Polaroid camera to capture “in precise detail,” she says, “not only how much twins are alike but the subtle qualities that often make them so different.”

While twins are not, in fact, 100 percent identical, Shane emphasizes the closeness of the twin bond in an interview: “There’s nobody in the world who will ever understand you or know the real you like your twin.” Shawn supports this perception with the story of how he and Shane bought each other the exact same sweater in the same store for Christmas one year, without knowing it.  

BJ, 2014

families; portraits; symmetry; siblings

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