FAMILY OF ORIGIN
The American Snapshot
Growing up the youngest in a family of 7 girls and 1 boy was a unique opportunity to be an observer of the social landscape, particularly of the female variety. In 2000 after the death of both parents, I became the archivist for my family of origin's photographs, about 40,000 images in all. This archive includes both black and white and color images from the 1800s to the 1980s. The oldest ones were glass slides. Many were moldy, dusty, and ruined. As I culled through these pictures and narrowed down 40,000 to 2600 and then 60 for this project, all printed in the tricolor gum bichromate process, I became fascinated with the family snapshot. Which moments in life lure the family member into rushing for the camera to take a picture? How does what we find of interest today compare with what was of interest to those in the 30s? The family photo album is a fascinating cultural read as well as a repository for silent family secrets. In Family of Origin, these images from the past (mold, dust, and all not Photoshopped out) are woven into the fabric of my present work and imagery to express a continuum of my family of origin's reality. Quirk and humor exist alongside sadness and darkness as well, because, in this family as in most, there were certainly darker dramas going on beneath the smiling Kodachrome faces.
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SPEakOp (SPE Opinion) is a series of think-pieces.