self portrait at 17


Self-Portraits by Torrance Hall

Torrance Hall is a 17-year-old visual artist based in Richmond, Virginia whose got a knack for turning thoughts in his head into fully realized visuals.

Throughout his work he explores the relationship between the imagination, dreams and the everyday vision of human experiences with dark and fantastical narratives. Peep more of his work at


See, I’m 35 in 5 months.
I’ve seen what 25 used to look like
and 15 was the best back in 1997.

I’ve made stupid decisions,
I still do and
probably will when I’m 45 or 55 or 105

Papa always told me
how inquisitive I was at 5
who questioned 
“how come fish couldn’t
breathe on land” or 
“Why is the moon up there?”
back in 1987

See, I’m 34 so far
I’ve been to 24 where
I acted like I was 19
while at 14 I wanted to be 21

I have regrets
for the things I didn’t do
but I repent not
for the great things
that I ended up doing
despite doubts at 22

I remembered my first day
in kindergarten at age 4
I held a teddy, a white bunny
with a cut on my lip
from being too excited
that my uniform smelt 
like a new adventure.

Mama often speak of
how curious I was 
with her uni books at age 3,
wondering over the meaning
of these foreign jargons.

See, I was 33 last year
and I remembered 23
was the year of commitment
whether it was to fulfilled 
the 13-year-old wish 
of not being alone or
the forever kind of love hope
but perhaps if I’ve met
my 43 old self she would
have said 
“hold the world first,
see how heavy it is before
you call it yours”

I was 30 once,
4 years ago with 
no direction like
back when I was 20
didn’t know who I wanted to be
or what to accomplish in life
yet at 10 I wanted to
be a psychologist then after 
the war that left my dream astray
at 16 back in 1999 I became
the refugee who sought
refuge from my own resentment.

At 29 I said goodbye 
to my twenties and didn’t
flinch when the others
seemed to freak out
that “30 is coming”
“life is ending”
as if it was the death
knocking on their door.

28 was the last time
I ever felt my kidney
leaving my body
to live with my Mama.

At 16 I wanted to leave Earth
because Venus was too pretty
to be left alone.
As though Venus would 
always understand 
that this closeted Sapphic skin
should not be hidden.

That same age I had to
carry my closeted self
to a Catholic all girls school,
imagine how terrifying it was
not being able to wear
the rainbow earrings 
as comfortable as I am now.

That same year
being a refugee,
a new student,
with three other
languages in my backpack
I only love the company
of the school library
just because 
I don’t get to where I am
without that kind of will
of a naive and outcasted girl,
to push through and
embrace English as though
it was my first love.

So you see,
most of us if not all 
been there already
if you haven’t 
then welcome
and I am sure
you will get here, where I am

D C de Oliveira
- an ode to myself.