Grandma's Shelf

Grandma’s shelf | 2016


As I search for my own identity and come to terms with the unknown of death and religion, I make photographs. Death is this inevitable event that everyone deals with in different ways. Many seek to eternalize those who have died by creating shrines. This memorialization postpones or even avoids the loss of death. One way I explore this idea is by creating death images and adding Victorian style borders to them. In response to thinking of death and its certainty, I naturally ponder life and identity. Specifically, the Christian idea of redemption is a main thread that runs through my current work. Redemption seems like a paradox where one can have two identities at once. One is a sinner but also perfectly clothed in righteousness. How is this possible? I struggle to even know. 

I typically use either a large or medium format film camera, and liquid photographic emulsion on fine art paper is one of my main printing techniques. Both the taking and the printing of the picture slow me down and allow me to sit with these hard questions. A liquid emulsion print also has a sense of recollection to it, like the images could have been found in an old family photo album. Faces, eyes, and other intimate body parts represent my subjects’ identities. I concentrate on dual identity, lack of identity, or even false identity that we all experience in this life. Ralph Eugene Meatyard, through his series Dolls and Masks, has influenced me both conceptually and visually, and Pinky Bass’s work addressing life and death in beautiful and out of the box ways has encouraged me to explore odd and unique formats and techniques in my photography.

My presentation of these images addresses the permanent identity of family. I’ve displayed my photos around and on a fictitious family’s bookshelf. This adds an approachability and familiarity that allows my photos to be taken in.