School Portrait Series
My environmental portraits, of young individuals dressed in school uniforms, seek to create a complex body of work and provoke questions concerning identity, education, and class system. Each image exists as a single portrait within a series, a community of photographs. The subjects, dressed in traditional uniform attire, gaze in acknowledgment of the audience. Each young student stands within his or her domestic space, yet, there exists an awkwardness in the way each presents himself or herself. An overwhelming similarity exists within the physicality of the individuals, the colors and structure of the uniforms, and the sterile environments. They are so similar, yet distinctive. Inspired by the photographic works of Rineke Dijkstra, Tina Barney, and Catherine Opie, I create images questioning my personal ideas of education, family, and community.Ideas concerning portraiture are explored. What is a portrait? What is it to photograph another individual within their space? As an artist, a photographer, we are aware of the rules and structure concerning portraiture, yet there is also the element of chance, the intangible element. I believe the act of photographing to be the act of exploring, engaging, and gaining awareness.
Beginning with a collection of news articles, crimes specific to the city of St. Louis, I commenced the creation of a series of fragmented images and text. After having researched the selected crimes, articles, I traveled to each exact location and investigated the visual environment. I am extremely drawn to the manner in which objects, spaces and environments are organized – the way in which visual elements are connected (i.e. – natural and man-made). I also seek to better understand our psychological associations and experiences with physical spaces, structures. I explored this project in an investigative manner similar to that of Sophie Calle, Thomas Demand, Weegee, Frances Glessener Lee and Corinne May Botz (The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death), and Anglea Strassheim. In particular, Calle assumes the role of a detective in her project titled, “The Hotel”, where she documents the objects and belongings of hotel guests in a voyeuristic manner. Assuming the role of detective, I also approached and explored each crime scene in a voyeuristic, detective-like manner. In addition, I was fascinated with her project “The Blind”, as she incorporates images and texts, actual events and reimagined visualizations. I believe the photographs by Corinne May Botz (The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death) are also a great influence concerning the reconstruction of a crime scene. In my work, I deconstruct an environment while constructing an image. The asymmetrical landscapes are visual and psychological dissections of a crime in a particular environment. By creating diptychs, I seek to challenge and extend understandings of the actual and imagined.
Lycée Masséna (collaborative project with sister, Andrea Land)
Lycée Masséna seeks to investigate perception and environment. Working in the South of France at a boarding school with international residents, my sister and I began to create a body of images directly related to our emotional immediacy, our understanding of the environment surrounding us. A strong curiosity developed in reaction to ambiguous spaces, unfamiliar sounds, and the illumination of light. We experienced intense sensations of stillness, solitude, and warmth. Evolving into a visual experiment, we investigated the organization of space, the organization of a foreign institution and of frozen, transient figures in a stark environment.
Walking into the environmental landscape of a mortuary can be a surreal experience. The space can at once be described as elegant and formal, yet sterile and haunting. I have been inside of several funeral homes having attended a plethora of funerals; however, I had never visited a mortuary with the intention of exploring the internal environment.
During the spring of 2010, I was enthralled with one mortuary in particular, in St. Louis. The project began in relation to a series of questions and continues to expand in complexity. On a daily basis, we are surrounded by and adorn our domestic settings with utilitarian objects, both for comfort and purpose. Yet, I began to ponder the concept of temporary spaces, the doctor's office, the bank, and the funeral home. What kind of furniture resides in a funeral home? How does one exist in a funeral home? In the American culture, the funeral home, holds a strange, melancholic stigma, a faux pas of sorts, and I became obsessed. During middle school, a close friend and his family were in the mortuary business, running multiple funeral homes in a small town in the Midwest. Eventually, he too attended mortuary school and continues to run the family business. It's odd to consider the funeral business, the business of dying, and the purpose of the space. Are the spaces generic or specific? What is this notion of containment? What is this artificial element of light and smell? I seek to continue my investigation of the space of the mortuary – the inorganic and the organic, the familiar and the strange.
Collected articles from floors 2 through 9 is a photographic and sociological study which seeks to challenge our ideas of consumerism, product use and waste. The process, very similar to Sophie Calle's The Hotel Room, involved quietly collecting trash from 8 floors within one apartment building located in St. Louis, Missouri. Upon visiting each floor's garbage/disposal room, I gathered a variety of specimens from each can, deposited the objects into a plastic bag, and labeled each bag respectively. Next, the artifacts were carefully laid out and photographed within a formal setting.