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 to something that is now, inevitably, ephemeral.
Life is a Series of Small Moments began when my first daughter became old enough to alter our surrounding domestic landscape. I was fascinated by the strangely beautiful way she created imaginative setups, as well as the odd underlying order that 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 examine this world. I was also drawn to the quirky way she moved, as well as to the points of stillness I could see within her whirlwind of play.
When my second daughter was born even more domestic vistas were opened, and life became that much more chaotic. In response, my images became that much more quiet. Thus taking photographs was my way of pinning down fleeting moments, an attempt to find poetry in disorder. At the forefront of this series is a sense of painful impermanence, a recurrent feeling of loss and nostalgia for the recent past, brought on by watching how rapidly my girls changed and grew as the work unfolded.
Strange Happenings represents a certain fascination I’ve had since childhood with the supernatural. Beginning around grade school I gravitated toward one small section in the local library that contained books on UFOs, ghosts, and the occult. As I grew older I spent time visiting Southwestern ghost towns, grilled friends for personal accounts of the strange and inexplicable, and continued to read ghost stories and the like. In essence it was an exploration of fear--there was something enticing about the unease and dread that it all inspired in me (which is not uncommon, as the popularity of horror movies demonstrates). Still, while I was easily emotionally shaken, I always maintained a heavy grip on disbelief and skepticism. In this series I am exploring this long-held preoccupation, and the contradiction between my rational brain and my innate fears, capturing both synchronistic visual occurrences and creating my own peculiar set-ups as a wayto investigate the unknown. The alteration of objects and settings is meant to feel both familiar and odd; some photographs seem accidental and others choreographed in order to challenge the notion of what “normal” is, and to visually represent concepts of apprehension and mystery.
Visiting takes place within the setting of museums, amusements parks, aquariums and the like--all places that I went to with family. Beyond the general chaos of crowds, away from the displays one is “supposed” to be looking at, strange and even allegorical scenes take 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.