9x16", Ink Jet Prints
This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
During my childhood I lived in fifteen different houses in the Midwest - a part of the country that feels as placeless as the rental houses my family occupied. As a result, I have always felt like an outsider observing and wondering about the area I was inhabiting. Each time we moved I became fascinated and haunted by the residual essence of the former inhabitants that still lingered in and around the home. Throughout the series, “Stories We Tell Ourselves”, memory, landscape, and vernacular images, coalesce in a series of constructed photographs. Drawing influence from my experiences, American Scene painting, literature, and cinema; I seek out non-specific American landscapes to become settings that simultaneously feel familiar and unfamiliar. In doing so, I embellish the images by adding atmospheric conditions and appropriated figures that are alien to the melancholic landscapes.
I begin the process for this series by photographing unoccupied suburban and rural areas to serve as backdrops of the everyday. I then search through my collection of anonymous vernacular images – photographs with unknown internal and external contexts – that have been purchased in secondhand shops to find figures to inhabit the minimalistic scenes. In doing so, a pensive human presence appears as an rückenfigur contemplating the landscape for the viewer to identify with, or as a visual device to direct the viewer’s gaze around the frame. I approach finding the locations to photograph, and choose the figures to appropriate, with an eye for ambiguity and an irrational attraction and fascination to unassuming details, thus allowing my mind to wander outside of the confines of my eye’s visual field.
In these re-contextualized photographic realities the landscapes and figures share a symbiotic relationship, which allows them to transcend time, space, and experience due to their juxtaposition. By creating composite photographs, I am inviting the viewer to impose new meanings and create their own re-telling’s of the stories intertwining the anonymous figures and unspecified locations.