Deep Breath (2021 – 2022)
After spending 14 months minimally interacting with the outside world prior to Covid vaccination, my series “Deep Breath” is driven by my desire to regain comfort with others through portraiture and dialogue. I photographed my sitters while we engaged in conversations about how the pandemic influenced their perceptions of people, our society, and our country. Using lengthened camera exposures to visually document the time physically spent in the same room together, the images evidence my efforts to overcome anxiety and distrust which arose from societal behaviors generated by the pandemic. As I take in the “new new normal” of being able to be in close physical contact with people again, I aim to attain some level of understanding of how others have learned to cope with what the pandemic has dealt and revealed to them. I represent our conversations, unexpectedly intense and private with many strangers, as letterform-based compositions whose abstraction references the difficulty of communication in our present societal moment.
These images are chemigrams – an analog photographic process which frees my work from controlled visual outcomes, and also transforms imagery in a way that touches on my varied feelings about being present, unmasked, with my subjects. Though traditionally cameraless, my portrait chemigrams involve experimental uses of serigraphy to apply a resist and reintroduce the lens-based image into the technique. Much like the early days of lockdown, the process is steeped in unpredictability. The resulting serendipitous visuals strip away any sense of place from the portraits, referencing the online voids that replaced physical interaction during lockdown. The conversations pieces employ more traditional chemigram techniques of hand-applying soft resists, as the elements of temperature and time craft the color, value, and texture of each composition. The layering of stenciled words embeds the secret experiences of my sitters into the light-sensitive paper.
Watch an interview to learn more about my concept and process for “Deep Breath”.