Since I was a small child, I have possessed a hyper-awareness of the unfolding of time, the fickle nature of memory, and the experiences that collectively make us who we are — all of the things that are often easily lost as we grow and become. As an elixir to these instincts, I make photographs hoping to locate these lost secrets, and rediscover truths through the instrument of memory. Intuitively following my cameras, like divining rods, I’ve spent the bulk of my relationship with image-making seeking authenticity. This is not some all encompassing truth about the world, but rather a pursuit for the little truths, our distinct stories, which resonate and reveal, connecting us as humans.
Amongst these photographic pursuits and meanderings is a collection of loves, longings and losses, dreams and despairs. It has often been said that my work is “nostalgic for a moment that has not yet been and yet [is] acutely aware of it’s inevitable disappearance”. Over the years, this has taken on many different trajectories ranging from documentary explorations to narrative driven, toy-camera collage work, an ongoing examination of people’s intimate spaces in “The Unmade Bed”, to my newest work which explores motherhood and the domestic experience. No matter the subject, the quotidian seems ever-present.
The work included here is a cross-section of my interests, focusing on young children, the development of their relationships to both themselves and the world, and their intimate circles. Grappling with a daily balance between family and an academic career leaves little time or for much else. The energies commonly required by young children easily overwhelm the creative forces required of private artistic/creative practices. These current images are my direct response to How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood. Regardless, I continue to be smitten by the innately creative cycles of the human condition and I am compelled to forge on amidst the often chaotic throes of motherhood. As time continues to careen past me, I find a sense of duty in witnessing and contemplating the play, the growth, and the complex construction of self taking place on my own domestic stage and those of close friends and family. There is no greater honor than to be privy to the deep inner lives of these magical beings, freeze-drying the moments as often as I am allowed entrance to them.
Parenthood is a complex honor that has greatly impacted my creative life. As stated before, the question often arises, how do we do both? Art & Motherhood. For me, the answer to this looks very different at certain intervals. I continually find myself re-calibrating my studio practice to accommodate the lives of these glorious creatures that now consume me. After all, motherhood is an innately feminist act. It is the exercising of our most creative choices. And as each one of my three children has crept closer to the one year milestone of their lives I have felt a renewed sense of creativity and space through which to include art-making more purposefully within my daily existence and into the children’s lives as well. It is at minimum a nurturing hand projecting itself into our futures. In the end we will become the materials of this practice and the photographs remain our instrument of memory.
The Unmade Bed, an ongoing project which began in 2005, explores what is left behind when one leaves his or her bed upon waking. It is an anthropological, yet emotive, approach to the environmental portrait. The bed itself, a highly charged personal object/space, is positioned somewhere between the sacred and the mundane. It can be a haven of safety, quiet, leisure, and passion, or the scene of violence, loss, and anguish. Bedrooms are among our most personal spaces—places that are often masked from public view—and our activities there are often quickly erased.
The images may inadvertently reveal the decisions, tastes, and habits of the bed’s owner, much like a portrait may reveal the tastes and personality of the sitter. These images, however, have a more private, ambiguous nature and leave the viewer with the perception of a lingering presence. This may lead the viewer to create a narrative based on the mark of the owner—to make assumptions about the people and activities that had once inhabited this space. Consequently, these banal spaces become the object of a somewhat voyeuristic gaze; the private becomes public, the commonplace exotic.
Transcending the confines of the present moment, these images blur the lines of time and space revealing an emotional landscape. Honest and yet wildly blind in the recognition of reality, the images are suffused with warmth, tenderness, and a mysterious light. Amongst these honest meanderings is a collection of loves, longings, and losses, dreams and despairs. Nostalgic for a moment that has not yet been and yet acutely aware of it’s inevitable disappearance. Full of quiet turbulence and mercurial emotion the visual overlappings beg for the audiences’ interpretation. Essentially the images become psychological portraits, like research into the formation of impulses, reflections, vulnerability, the awareness of the moment, and the horror of sudden absence. The layers of projection within the photographs confound the transparent recording of the real. The imagery is not the visual records of daily existence but rather the expressive capability of the artist’s imagination intertwined with the richness and intimacy of her own life.
As a child I have vivid memories of hot summer Sundays spent playing hide and go seek while my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles met the other adults in the congregation to discuss the overall upkeep of our little family's historical church. My every summer involved a June basket lunch accompanied by a worship service and a maintenance meeting. Delighted by the newness of the place each visit and the delight of seeing my cousins after many months I would frolic amongst the grave markers and the out buildings. I would imagine the days of my grandfather and family arriving for church in a horse drawn surrey with the fringe on top among other stories of their youth. And hence at a very young age I began to understand a sense of nostalgia for a time that I never knew and for an experience that I would never live. Later as a young adult I realized my family trees' resting place was the same as the location of earlier joyous childhood games.
This body of work explores the present structure of Steinhagen, an historic building in Warren County, Missouri. "The Rock Church", a translation of Steinhagen, was erected in its current limestone form in 1875. The stone construction sits roughly 15 feet away from N. Hwy 47, the major artery through the city of Warrenton, Missouri. Somewhat insulated by farms, the one room German church stands amidst the rapid growth of the surrounding county.
I make photographs in many ways to catalog evidence. Verification of that which no longer exists is the driving function. I am most interested in memory, time, and the fleeting nature of experience. Naturally, an historic object such as Steinhagen finds a place quickly within my viewfinder, reminding me that nothing is fixed, although glimpses of worlds past remain. The photographs in question are a meditation on the cyclical nature of time, loss, and rebirth. As suburbia encroaches on all fronts this modest edifice stands eloquently alone and unadulterated by sprawl.
These photographs are a meditation on the cyclical nature of time. As the continuum of time passes on all fronts not even the most modest recollection can eloquently stand alone and remain unadulterated. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is as it seems.
The serial image is fascinating to me. The fixed still image has a memorability unlike it’s moving counter-part, burning an impression into one’s mind and forcing a slowed intersection. Similar to the patterns of thought or a memory, the succession of still images on a contact sheet appear and order themselves according to multiple contexts. A pictorial document of ones thoughts and connections is the result; a road map or landscape of one’s mind. Seemingly random, and yet always serendipitously aligning to make meaning in a myriad of different ways. Providing endless routes and juxtapositions for one to reorder the evidence, the groupings of images attempt to reflect a sort of autobiography and at the same time evoke the viewer to begin making assumptions in relation to their own personal narratives, experiences, and associations.
This body of work explores the passage through experience, memory and time. It is the intersection of my past, my experience, my thoughts, and my dreams, both the desires and the despairs. These serendipitous intersections come about through an intuitive and associative collage approach to the photograph. I utilize everyday objects along with the elements of color and light to convey a sense of emotion or experience. Each photograph has it's own rhythms, much like the pattern of a wave. These micro-narratives speak of personal or private moments but only to tempt the viewer into participation with my visual offerings. The entrance of their imaginative and emotive thoughts are key in exploding the narrative.
Central to this photographic exploration is the notion that a thing cannot be defined without a context. Likewise perception or understanding cannot take place without the perspective of recall to provide that context. The mind apprehends memories which are most appropriate at each given intersection in time in order to assess the current situation. However no laws of logic apply to their sometimes disparate or random topics. The narrative structure of the photographs is anti-climatic, as the everyday progression of time often can be. The images are transitions awaiting action or the quiet expectation of an event. They don't answer questions, if anything they may pose them. When seen as an entire installation there is a rhythm throughout the body of photographs that is perpetuated by one another and is contingent upon the delicate pulse of the individual collages themselves. Some being more aggressive than others, some more quiet and subtle, others punctuated by their repetitious visual elements. It is similar to the intricate workings of a dance, weaving in and out of the notes and rhythms sometimes to accentuate the beat or to selfishly avoid.
I have attempted, as any photographer might say, to capture the fugitive beauty in our fleeting reality—to capture the small moments that we cannot convey in mere words. These privileged moments in which we find ourselves are really just prosaic transitions that we pass through and commit to memory. They can only be permeated alone, no one will ever see them the same way again, and by that they are gone to us, only to resurface in an intersection within the landscape of the mind.