My photographic practice stems from a place of grief and a longing to elongate the now. Through a language of color still lives of ordinary objects and domestic scenes, a feeling is evoked that the significance of our lives is held within these mundane things with which we surround ourselves.
A vase of fake flowers, yellow tupperware on the drying rack, a kitsch sculpture of a lioness with her cubs—my subjects hold secrets to their owners’ desires and identities. They not only reveal ways in which we try to make sense of the world through collection and organization; they also connect us to a past.
Through photography, I hope to show that they are not simply what they are but in fact direct extensions of us.
Each print is 32 x 40 inches.
Photograms of wild honeycomb collected in Marin County, California.
Each photogram is an 8 x 10 inch unique silver gelatin print.
The Roddis House
This project revolves around my great-aunt's house in Wisconsin, which was designed by Gus A. Krasin and built under the supervision of my great-grandfather Hamilton Roddis in 1914. In 2011, as my great-aunt neared the end of her life, the future of this house, which had been significant to the psyche of my extended family for nearly one hundred years, began to look uncertain. I turned to photography as a way of documenting and preserving that shared history.
As I unearthed buried objects found in drawers and dark closets throughout the house, I realized it was not only a documentary project but also a personal investigation of nostalgia and how we envision the past from the present perspective. How do we prepare for the passage of time and teach ourselves to remember the past? What do we leave behind by accident or on purpose?
This is how one family left their memories to be found and how I choose to remember.
A photobook published through Blurb of these images can be found here.
With this ongoing series of nocturnal landscapes, I seek to capture moments in which our awareness is heightened and we are more susceptible to our realities being altered by our imagination and the subconscious.
A study of the physical world, particularly at times when it can be almost dreamlike in its hyper-sensuality.
A study of roses in the wind.
I love baths. They help me relax and I can be pretty tense sometimes. They also keep me warm and I can get pretty cold. When I feel the blood returning to the far reaches of my toes and fingertips, I start to feel like myself again.
I love the way your ears seem to tune into a whole different spectrum of sounds when you’re beneath the surface. Suddenly the hum of the airplane overhead or the rumbling of the train passing by on the other side of town feel as though they’re emanating from right there inside of you.
I love the way that everything slows down. That the perpetual white noise is drowned out.
I love that water completely envelops you. It reminds me of love.
I don’t even mind that I can’t breathe underwater. It reminds me that I’m alive.
December 30, 2011
Joan and Alfred Russell lived in Room 1019 of the Hotel Chelsea for 30 years, from 1978 until their deaths. Peter Feld, the couple’s nephew, invited me to document their apartment on December 31, 2008, two weeks after Joan Russell’s death.
This project would become my first photographic thanatopsis and an attempt to record the postmortem traces of life that remain in a space shortly after an occupant's passing.
A photo book published through Blurb of these images can be found here.
Below, Peter Feld gives a short bio of his aunt and uncle:
Alfred Russell (1920-2007) was a "painter with a gift for the magic of spiderly lines," according to critic Jed Perl. He began his career in the mid-1940s, studying at Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17. His early abstract work was featured in seven Whitney Annuals from 1949-55, in MoMA's major abstract show in 1951, and with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning in the controversial 1951 Paris exhibition, Véhémences Confrontées, that contrasted American with European painters. In a 1953 essay, Russell renounced avant-garde abstraction as "The Bourgeoisation of Modern Art," and lamented the rise of "assembly-line product for the needs of mass culture." In Brooklyn College, "he walked out of the history of post-war abstraction and into oblivion." For the next five decades, he worked in a diverse range of mostly figrative styles, including classical and geometric forms, exhibiting rarely. He continued to paint and draw until his death.
Joan Silverman Russell (1929-2008) was a teacher, author, and classics scholar. As a Brooklyn College art major, she studied under Alfred Russell around 1949 and 1950. She later earned an M.A. from NYU in art history, took part in the archeological dig at Aphrodisias, Turkey, acted in ancient Greek drama, and taught classics at NYU's continuing education school. She went on to teach English as a Second Language at CUNY's New York Technical College, and co-authored two well-regarded textbooks, Science and Society and Past, Present, & Future. During the 60s and 70s, she lived a bohemian single life in the West Village. She married Alfred Russell in 1977, after the death of his first wife, and they soon after moved to the Chelsea, dividing their time between New York and Paris. She was a voracious consumer of culture, reading widely and attending art shows and performances, and was a beloved member of the tight-knit community of the Chelsea's 10th floor.