Using found family snapshots, I create an ephemeral atmosphere, extending the singularity of the figure into a spatial field. Implied space and rendered form in cut and paste collage, these compositions are a celebration of a memory that is now dissolved through thoughtful layers of contemporary media, both digital and analog.
A wave of melancholy washed over me when I realizedthe sheer volume of displaced family photographs for sale on eBay. All of these faces lost to history; never to be reunited with their families and destined to remain nameless.
To whom did these people belong? Evidence of a life but what to make of it now? Over a few months I accumulated an extraordinary inventory of the North American vernacular experience in the 20th century. As I sorted photographs, I noticed reoccurring themes. Mothers with new babies, newlyweds cutting their wedding cake, the portrait of the soldier in uniform, homeowners standing proudly in front of new homes, friends in casual groups of three, four, and women standing alone.
So many women standing alone; it piqued my curiosity. Through who’s gaze were these women photographed? Who stood behind the camera? Her lover? Best friend? Sister? I have a surprising amount of wallet-sized photographs, which makes perfect sense considering the context. These were carried in, presumably, men’s wallets as they traveled to remote crossings in times of war. It is not a stretch to imagine an exchange fraught with emotion and tension as a soldier left the comforts of home. The subject of the photograph offering it at the risk of being rejected, anxious he would accept or flattered when asked. The paramour hoping she would agree to award the privilege of her miniature smile.
As a childless only child, it sent a chill through me that these people were lost to time. My family photographs will surely meet the same fate. With no one to pass them on to, what else could happen to the images of my beloveds but to end up for sale in a lot with hundreds of others.
This realization could have sent me into an existential panic, paralyzing me in my tracks or I could turn this moment of contemplation into something tangible.
I chose the latter. My intention with this new body of work is to reclaim through art and collage the women standing alone. To celebrate their lasting spirit captured by one decisive moment on film in what, we can only assume, was a full life much like our own. It is all we have left of them; what was caught by the click of the shutter.
Many artists use found photographs in their work but altering the original artifact remains crucial to my process. Using a laser cutter, the photographs are (as gently as humanly possible) cut with a pattern overlay. The bits that fall away are collected and used as collage materials to be worked back into the piece in an effort to make the image whole again.