Alternative Facts: Photography by Any Means
Artist Statement, 2021
If I could rewrite the little ditty ‘bout Jack and Diane, I’d be the football star. This text creates the narrative voice for one of the photographs in my newest body of work, Stories, 1986-88. Putting a new spin on old histories as my daughter stands in for a youthful me—the one I remember and the one I was never quite allowed to be—these deadpan portraits paired with short narrative texts create juxtapositions, dichotomies, and nostalgias, bringing the past into the present as we reimagine my childhood stories. Rooted in the image-text relationship, Stories 1986–88 addresses the role of snapshots, family records, the myth of the photograph, and the myths of memories. Though I can’t change the past, I can rephotograph it.
Another text reads: The closest I ever came to the transient life of my dreams was a hobo-themed birthday party. “Come as you are,” the invitations said, which was all I needed to hear. For myriad reasons, I didn’t get to always be the kid I wanted to be—being a “tomboy” in Texas in the 80s was the safest way for my parents to label me and for me to understand my gay identity—and I can see the evidence of that in family snapshots, especially as I understand the truths that lie beyond them. Now, I don’t want to run away and be a hobo anymore, but being denied those desires to be, for example, a football star rather than a debutante, shaped the person I am today. As an artist and an adult, I am taking my power back, power from a past that I could not control, from an oppression I couldn’t understand, so that I may have a present that embodies my personal ideals, asserts my unique womanhood, and embraces my inner child. Through this restorative approach to image-making and storytelling, as well as quality time spent with my daughter and a dash of humor, I am able to create new memories—new truths— with her as if thumbing through a box of mementos together for the first time.
On display March 1 – April 12, 2021 at the PACE Center Art Gallery:
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