Buried on Her 90th Birthday focuses on the house and farm in Iowa where my grandparents lived for 61 years. My visits growing up generated a strong sense of nostalgia and set in motion a fascination with the significance of homes and objects, ideas that have found their way into much of my artistic practice over time. When my grandfather died in 2008, my images became even more centered around the concept that what people leave behind can provide a glimpse into who they were when alive. My grandmother died in 2012, and as my family and I gathered to divide up her possessions I documented what she and my grandfather had accumulated over their lifetimes, recognizing how the seemingly unimportant became precious and even fascinating following death. Four months after she passed away, my grandmother was buried on what would have been her 90th birthday.

Life is a Series of Small Moments began when my first daughter became old enough to alter our surrounding domestic landscape. There was an unintentional beauty in her imaginative setups, and an odd underlying order began to emerge out of the messiness and frenetic nature of our day-to-day lives. I existed in a changing stream of child-driven installations that I found myself wanting to document and examine. I was also drawn to the points of stillness that occurred within her whirlwind of play. When my second daughter was born, additional domestic vistas opened, and life became that much more chaotic. In response, my images became that much quieter. Taking photographs was my way of pinning down fleeting moments and an attempt to find structure in disorder. At the forefront of this series is a sense of impermanence and longing for the recent past, brought on by watching how rapidly my children changed and grew even as the work was unfolding.

Happenings represents a particular fascination I’ve had since childhood with the supernatural. Beginning in grade school, I gravitated to one small section in my local library that contained books on UFOs, ghosts, and the occult. As I grew older, I spent time visiting Southwestern ghost towns and grilled friends for personal accounts of the strange and inexplicable. In essence, it was an exploration of fear—there was something enticing about the unease and dread it inspired in me (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 occurrences and creating my own set-ups as a way to investigate the unknown. The alteration of objects and settings is meant to feel both familiar and odd; some photographs seem accidental, and others choreographed to challenge the notion of what “normal” is and to visually represent concepts of apprehension and mystery.

Visited takes place within museums, amusement parks, aquariums, and the like—all places I went to with my family. Beyond the general chaos of crowds, away from the displays one is “supposed” to be looking at, strange and even allegorical scenes can occur. In this series, I have attempted to elevate neglected corners and curious moments as a way to be present to the artistic in the ordinary.

Using Format