The Long Way Home


Magic Window
April 26, 2013, 7:33 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , , ,
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l. always surrounded in books. c. late-afternoon studio light r. instant light- polaroids by tarkovsky

My “studio” is a narrow strip of space in front of Jeff’s workshop. Separated by a retractable wall, one can find me shooting my photo-a-day projects on one side, while Jeff is sanding/sawing away on the other. My equipment: a camera, an object and natural light; it isn’t fancy. I styled the photos in our store-front windows, or right on the floor in front of the glass door. The roughly finished pine makes a great backdrop. It’s such a tiny angle though that I often have to curl up on my knees, balancing on elbows to steady camera (or just set it eye-level on the floor with the objects) to get certain shots (see: “toy army”). Which is how it got its “magic window” moniker via Sarah: that intense afternoon light cutting through the large front windows gives ordinary house tchotchkes lives of their own.

l. vintage buttons to lost coats. r. music box from my mother that plays "climb every mountain."

l. vintage buttons to lost coats. r. music box from my mother that plays “climb every mountain.”

l. lock and key m. palm-sized album with photobooth pictures of my mother r. vintage letters that i have yet to read

l. lock and key. c. palm-sized album with photobooth pictures of my mother. r. vintage letters that i have yet to read.

l. repurposed dolly heads. c. toy army. r. german bisque dolls, 1920s

l. repurposed dolly heads. c. toy army. r. german bisque dolls, 1920s

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Object Lesson
February 25, 2013, 6:47 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , ,
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l. wedding gift c. felt steak dinner-a gift from bill r.items from the fridge

As a collector and a writer, I trace the stories in the objects that others leave behind, and never have the stories been more clear to me than when my mother died. Her letters and photos, more than any of the objects (the nesting dolls, the music boxes, clocks and icons) , mean a lot to me; I’m careful, though, to not attach meaning to everything she left (empty deodorant bottles in her medicine cabinet, for instance, were more a testament to her housekeeping skills than any sentimental reasons). I wonder what will happen to my stuff when I’m gone? I used to save all my letters, and years ago, I threw them away – seven bags full of correspondence from my college years. My heart kind of crushes when I think about that. Lesson learned, and now I save handwritten-letters and emails via inbox folders (if any of you reading have sent me a thoughtful, funny or insightful email in the past 10 years, I still have it). Part of my photo-a-day project involves documenting items around our house by photographing them in our studio window (which Sarah calls “magic window” because the incredible natural light makes everything beautiful).

from top left: 1950s phone. necklace from jeff in honor of my surname. cookbooks to read before bedtime. virgin statues.

from top left: 1950s phone. necklace from jeff in honor of my surname. i read cookbooks more than i cook from them. saints and virgin statues from my travels.

from top left: our wedding cake topper. gypsy witch cards have amazing artwork. bubble-gum machine monster from jeff. mask wedding gift.

from top left: our wedding cake topper. gypsy witch cards have amazing artwork. bubble-gum machine monster from jeff. mask wedding gift.



A World Within a World

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When we crossed the West Fork River into Weston, I was in awe by the site of the asylum; it’s so enormous that it literally took my breath away. The castle-like structure is a Kirkbride model, designed with the belief that a patient’s environment was part of the cure for mental illness. Doctors encouraged patients to engage in farming, cooking and cleaning of their ‘home’ – activities not only with the plan of curing, but also creating the world where they lived, sometimes for the rest of their lives. One of the last people admitted there was singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston. You can view his artwork while listening to loops of his music in the patient art gallery. The hospital closed in 1994, not too long ago, and I’m trying to imagine what it was like for someone to roam the hallways or tend to the gardens, to look through the barred windows out to a town that they may never have known.

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Apartment Stories

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I know I’ve mentioned before how I walk into someone’s house and think, I must photograph this, and that’s how “Apartment Stories” emerged. My artist friend Sarah let me pop over to her place yesterday and invade her space for an hour. We rearranged furniture, peeled canvases from walls. A wig from Jo-Ann Fabrics even appeared to create my doppelgänger (more on this in a future post). What started this set was a large, ornate frame propped against a blue wall, the exposed brick, the afternoon sun shooting through a corner window. Each frame a paragraph to a story, a respite from grieving.

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The Long Winter
March 7, 2011, 7:47 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , ,

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It feels as if this year has gone on forever and it’s only March. February is one awful dream. Which surprises me because I didn’t feel disconnected as I tried (try) to adjust to daily life right after my mother’s death. If anything, I felt so much, I thought my heart would burst. Now I’m exhausted. I am trying to catch up with emails and phone calls. I am trying to get through a book that I’ve read for the past month. The point is, I am trying. On Sunday, I went over my friend Jody’s house to take some photos. I wasn’t in the mood to do self portraits, but Jody made a great model. Once I’m behind the camera, I become lost in that moment. It calms my nerves, keeps my brain from racing and the sadness quiet. It keeps me going.

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Postcards from Eastie

view of the harbor

Arrived in East Boston on a Saturday night. We get lost because the roads split into roundabouts, so Dan and Marta come to rescue us in a catering business parking lot. It’s dark, but the neighborhood is in full swing – children riding their bikes to the corner store, families sitting on the front stairs, calling out to each other. Cars in a traffic jam. Down the street Diva’s is  closed, but pulsing with purple lights, the windows filled with child mannequins dressed in club wear. There are pay phones still intact and people use them.

We fall asleep to the sound of a baby crying, someone calling out to close a window, the click and whir of clothes in the dryer. The sun wakes me early, so I grab my camera, still in my nightgown, and sneak into the hallway to capture the morning light. I tiptoe through the apartment again to the back porch, to see the neighborhood waking. You can track generations of tenants through the lawn ornaments preserved in the back yards – two cows overturned on their backs, which Jeff later mistakes for two cats. A swing set sinks into the grass. The upstairs’ neighbors have lost their laundry on Dan and Marta’s porch, and the pair of shorts stays there for the rest of our trip. I am thinking about the baked eggs with tomato and bacon from Scup’s, the homemade side of pickled fennel, onions and peppers, because it’s almost dinner now and I’m hungry. Thinking about how nice it is to step into someone’s life, even if it’s only for a weekend. 

mr. and mrs.

the first picture of the morning

the virgin has her back turned to us

disappear

sunday

secret garden

 

relic

view from the second floor bathroom of scup's



To Disappear: the Stasia Project
twinsinmirror

mirrors are like finding your twin

I’m most inspired by places when creating photos. It could be a grassy field, a brightly colored house or in my recent Stasia project, the mostly-empty third and fourth floors of the art gallery downtown where Jeff and I curated a show this past September. When I first saw the rooms, it was a sunny day and the natural light coming through the windows was just insanely beautiful. I didn’t know what project I’d do in those rooms, but I wanted to take advantage of the space and the light.

stasiaanemeinmirror

a meta shot from 'to disappear'

My friend Anastasia is a great model. She’s easy-going, incredibly patient and willing to do most whatever I ask of her in order to get a shot.

stasiaskirtonfloor

from 'to disappear'

Initially, I thought I’d use some of these photos for a Day of the Dead project that never happened (Jeff was going to take one of my images and do something with it in Photoshop as a collaborative project). But I didn’t want to be confined to a specific project — after working on the fairy tale series, my main goals here were working with natural light, negative space, monochromatic backgrounds with pops of color, and experimenting with long exposures since the day that I took these was rainy and grey. 

todisappear

debating the physics of flight

stasiawindowpgh

portrait of stasia

I tried different filters in photoshop on this photo and finally settled on ‘deep yellow,’ to give it a warmer hue:

stasiarulerwall

geometry

I love photo shoots like this because I allowed myself the freedom of doing whatever the hell I wanted and not worry about being perfect. I was also excited when my friend Kim came in from downstairs to shoot off two pictures – she’s an amazing, talented photographer and it was fun to work with her again, even if for just a few minutes. 

kimphoto1

photo by Kim Rullo

Now I have a batch of photos to work with over the next month or so and a new-found love for long exposures. 

redelevator

the red elevator

One of the photos featured on Utata.




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