ARTIST STATEMENT: ARTISTS STATEMENT
I work in series, and exhibit my photographs as an installation around an idea or aspect of contemporary American life. I have been working in historical photo-processes for nearly forty years, and have concentrated on the oil print process since the early 1990’s. I photo-sensitize paper or canvas, emphasizing the grain of the film, and then inking up the image either in additive color or in black and white. Because the medium I choose to work in looks old, I use this built-in age to evoke notions of memory. Individual photographs are tied to the moment they are taken, and yet they often describe moments we share in common.
I am interested in trying to tap into collective memories. My series depict everyday life, both urban and rural, and often act as a metaphor for complicated issues. My 2011 exhibition, “Bubble,” dealt with aspects of the housing crisis, and my 2002 show “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” with 9/11. Though the work is issue-oriented, I endeavor to create images that move beyond polemics and are visually pleasurable.
For the past twenty years, I have only used negatives that I have taken, though in the past I had sometimes used family photographs as a starting point. I use non-silver techniques as a way of changing the way the work was viewed. Traditional photographs, when seen as a group, are often read as a gestalt, without allowing the viewer to focus on the content of the image. To counter this, I make images in which one cannot easily tell how they were made. In all my images there is the obvious inclusion of my hand. I do not addition prints: each work is unique.
My most recent exhibition, “The Ballad of Delia,” is part of an ongoing investigation of genre themes. The title comes from an American folk murder ballad. Americans are endlessly fascinated by murder, both real and imagined. Most of us spend countless hours reading detective fiction and watching police procedurals. [TAKE THIS OUT? I am interested in why this is such an area of fascination.] “The Ballad of Delia” is a group of seemingly unrelated images that evoke the mood of the ballad without being illustrative. The title and the photographs suggest themes of a murder mystery without “telling the tale,” All the elements are there: an imagined place, weapon and murderer. My pictures provide the details but the viewer can construct the story.
The idea of a constructed narrative is very important to me. I want these narratives to be very open- ended and allow the viewer to project their memories onto the work.