Buried on Her 90th Birthday focuses on the house and land in Iowa where my grandparents lived for 61 years. When I was younger my visits from the East Coast to the Midwest were when I formed a strong sense of nostalgia and a fascination with the significance of homes and objects, concepts that have found their way into much of my artistic practice over time..
While I had taken photographs of their house for years, it wasn’t until my grandfather died in 2008 that my image-making became that much more centered around the idea of material things as totems, along with the notion that what people leave behind might be able to give a deeper glimpse into who they were while alive. When my grandmother died in 2012, as my family and I gathered to go through and divide up her possessions, I intensively documented what she and my grandfather had accumulated over a lifetime and the spaces they had inhabited--realizing then that the seemingly unimportant becomes precious and even fascinating following death. Four months after she passed away my grandmother was buried on what would have been her 90th birthday; ultimately making these images has been my attempt to hold on something that is now, inevitably, ephemeral.
Life is a Series of Small Moments began when my first daughter became old enough to alter her surrounding domestic landscape. I was fascinated by thestrangely beautiful way she created imaginative setups, as well as the odd underlying orderthat emerged out of the messiness and frenetic nature of our day-to-day lives. I existed ina changing stream of child-driven installations, and I wanted to document and examinethis world. I was also drawn to the quirky way she moved, as well as to the points ofstillness I could see within her whirlwind of play.
When my second daughter was born even more domestic vistas were opened, andlife became that much more chaotic. In response, my images became that much more quiet-- taking photographs was (and still is) my way of pinning down fleeting moments, anattempt to find poetry in disorder. But what ultimately has risen up the most for me as Icontinue this series is a sense of painful impermanence, a recurrent feeling of loss andnostalgia for the recent past, brought on by watching how rapidly my girls change andgrow. Because I know I can’t take these pictures forever a sort of strange sense ofgratitude has become a permanent part of my emotional and artistic landscape, and afundamental driving force behind this work.
Strange Happenings represents a certain fascinationI’ve had since childhood with the supernatural. Beginning aroundgrade school I gravitated toward one small section in the local library thatcontained books on UFOs, ghosts, and the occult. As I grew older I spent timevisiting Southwestern ghost towns, grilled friends for personal accounts of thestrange and inexplicable, and continued to read ghost stories and the like.Part of it was an exploration of fear--there was something enticing about theunease and dread that it all inspired in me (which is not uncommon, as the popularityof horror movies demonstrates). Still, while I was easily emotionally shaken, Ialways maintained a heavy grip on disbelief and skepticism. In this series I am exploring this long-held preoccupation, and the contradictionbetween my rational brain and my innate fears, capturing bothsynchronistic visual occurrences and creating my own peculiar set-ups as a wayto investigate the unknown. The alteration of objects and settings is meant tofeel both familiar and odd; some photographs seem accidental and otherschoreographed in order to challenge the notion of what “normal” is, and tovisually represent concepts of apprehension and mystery.
Visiting takes place within the setting of museums, amusements parks, aquariums andthe like that I have gone to with my family. Beyond the general chaos ofcrowds, away from the displays one is “supposed” to be looking at, strange andeven allegorical scenes are taking place. In this series I have attempted to elevate neglected corners and curious scenes as a way to be present to the artistic in the ordinary.