As much as we love Instagram, the seemingly endless scrolling can often leave our brains gasping for fresh air. Cecilia Gorgon’s account – a thoughtful curation of striking shadows, still lives, and selfies– has the opposite effect: it is the fresh air. Recently, the University of Michigan student and Glossier Boy Brow model added vlogger to her creative resume with a video where she talks beauty products and her commitment to the slow fashion movement. Inspired by her natural aesthetic and radiant energy, we spoke with Cecilia about all things art, sustainability, and the importance of disrupting Western beauty norms. Read our conversation below and give our girl a follow (@ceciliagorgon)!
Can you tell us about what you’re studying in school and what inspired you to take this path?
I'm getting my B.A in Fine Arts and I’m minoring in American Culture. I took a history class last semester that I thought was super cool and it inspired me to start the minor. When I started in the art program, I was focusing on illustration and ceramics, but they don’t offer very many classes in either of those departments that aren’t very beginner level. Before applying to Stamps (the name of U of M’s prestigious art program), I did a lot of work at the Neutral Zone, which is a teen arts center in Ann Abor. I’ve always drawn and painted and made things out of clay.
Your boyfriend is also an artist. What role does art play in your relationship?
He just had a show a couple weeks ago in St. Louis and I like helping him out. We drove out there and took down the show together. In some ways, I’m his assistant (laughs) and I’m always critiquing him and giving my input. I haven’t really been making things myself recently, which is kind of sad. I love illustrations and comic books—I think that’s what I would have done if I had a better experience in the program I’m in.
It’s funny you say that, because one could argue that your Instagram curation is proof of “making things”! What inspires your Instagram aesthetic?
I like to be home and to be comfortable, so I’ve been thoughtful in how I’ve curated my space. I really like taking photos of my room at certain times of the day—and I do think of Instagram as an expression of my art, but when I think of making art, I think of really getting my hands dirty. With that definition, I don’t tend to think of my page as an art form, but maybe it is.
Do you see art being in your career future?
I hope so. I want to work for company where I can use my creative skills, so, maybe not necessarily being a part of the art world per-se, but I envision myself having a creative role. I plan to move to New York when I graduate.
What do you enjoy most about the Mid-West?
How quiet it is and how dark it gets at night. I also love the lakes. I’m from Southwest Detroit- my family and my boyfriend’s family live very close. I also appreciate how big and flat the Midwest is—it makes for beautiful imagery. It’s a truly wholesome place.
Describe your beauty ritual, whatever that means to you.
I’ve recently tried to make a transition from using products that I’ve always liked to more organic and clean beauty products. At night, I use an oil cleanser and African black soap. My mom gets it from an African store in Detroit and I really like it. In terms of makeup, I touch my face a lot, so I don’t like to wear concealer or foundation unless there’s something really wild on my face. I also have faint brows, so I fill them in with the Anastasia brow pomade and then Boy Brow. I love Boy Brow, it’s so good. If you brush hairs backwards, against the grain, and then the right way, it’s works super well. The make-up artist at Glossier taught me that while I was shooting the Boy Brow campaign.
Tell me a memory about your hair.
I’m biracial - my mom is black, my dad is white. Neither of them really knew how to do my hair when I was little, so I always struggled with liking my curls and just figuring out how to do it. I probably didn’t figure out how to treat my curls until I was a sophomore, or maybe the end of my freshman year. When I figured out how to do it, it was a true revelation. Hair is important to me. I always feel like I want women who have curly hair to wear their hair natural. There’s so much pressure to straighten it regardless of what your ethnic background is, so whenever women wear their hair curly, it makes me so happy.
Have you always been committed to a sustainable life?
In different degrees. Until recently, I wasn’t aware of the environmental and social repercussions of the fast-fashion industry. I’ve always been vocal about global warming and climate change- when I was younger, I wrote an impassioned letter to Al Gore. So, if had known about the harmful impacts of fast fashion, I think I would’ve been more militant about it sooner. Now that I know, I’ve made a commitment to change the way I shop. I do other things too, like when I get coffee I always try to bring my own glass or metal container. I always recycle. The biggest thing now is that I don’t eat meat. I’m trying to become vegan but it’s so hard. My dad is Italian, so cheese is just an essential part of food for me. I’ve cut out milk completely - rice milk, by the way, is a great substitute.
You recently posted a photo captioned “No, I don’t shave my pits. Also I haven’t washed my face yet today”. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind that post?
A lot of the women I respect on Instagram are super confident in the way they look naturally- women like Paloma Elsesser and Nikisha Brunson—neither of them conform to Western beauty standards and are both so beautiful and confident. I feel so inspired by them. In terms of shaving body hair, that’s something I haven’t done in a long time. I think it’s important to see women do that, so people know and can think, it’s okay if I do this, even if the media says otherwise. It’s your body, you do what you want with it. When I posted the photo, I didn’t think it would be a thing. Honestly, the light was just really good, and I hadn’t washed my face and don’t shave my pits, so it wasn’t super intentional, but I DO think it’s important to share those things.
Interview by: Alexandra Hayes. Photos courtesy of Cecilia Gorgon.