In January 2009, I gave birth to a baby girl; I became a mother. I was totally unprepared for the psychological and emotional upheaval that followed. My sense of self, my closest relationships, my experience of the world, and even my role as an artist/photographer were abruptly in shift. At the same time I was trying to reconcile the new me, I was battling the internal and external pressure to conform to conventional models of motherhood. I created this series of self-portraits as a way to process my feelings as a new mother and to catalogue its complexities.
Through the Night
This is a series of self-portraits that I made during the time I was breastfeeding my son. I used long exposures to capture my experience as a mother trying to cope with the exhaustive and repetitive demands of an infant who was not yet sleeping through the night.
This project documents the Olympian-inspired tableaux vivants performed annually at Camp Lawrence, a boys’ camp in New Hampshire. A tableaux vivant, or “living picture,” is an art form in which actors pose in a silent and motionless presentation of important moments in history, literature, art, or everyday life. Traditionally, tableaux are both entertainment and a way of communicating cultural motifs.
This specific performance is about teamwork, strength, and endurance. It is also a ritual and a rite of passage. The participants take their roles seriously. They spend long hours in preparation, and the poses require the very same teamwork, strength, and endurance they illustrate for the younger campers.
As an artist who uses the photographic tableau in my work, I am interested in how the appropriation and repetition of traditional images shapes our visual language.
Arch of Triumph
When the World Was New
This series uses performance, creative play, and self-portraiture in natural environments as a way to explore perception. I was interested in making photographs that were unguided by rational thought and attempted to expose something more unfiltered than the usual method of capturing the self.
In order to make these photographs, I would set off exploring with my camera and choose settings intuitively. Once I found a location, I made the performances and images rather quickly, relying on free association, impulse, and improvisation to direct my actions. In doing so, I hoped to simulate the experience of dreaming while awake in order to collect some of the impressions, associations, patterns, symbols, and ambiguities that are present within conscious and subconscious thought.
The resulting images are Rorschach-like; there is no “right” or singular way to interpret them and they do not reveal a whole meaning or truth. Instead, they reference psychological states of being or fleeting sensations.
Although my method of working mimics the automatic drawing used by the Surrealists, my title for this series alludes to the origins of perception and is adapted from a passage in Gabriel García Márquez’s master work of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude:
“The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.”