First, let me say we’re truly blessed here – we suffered no damage from Hurricane Irene. I’m watching the news as I type, and all around us, the Mohawk and Hudson rivers are still rising, flooding homes, streets, and cities. Lock 7 of the Erie Canal is about to go, and emergency personal are working overtime to evacuate and rescue people all around us. We’re sitting here with sunny blue skies and a dry basement (after our sump pump dealt with the 2-3 inches of water that was the result of our power cutting out.) We’re safe and dry, and for that I’m grateful.
I’ve been working on this project for too long now – I was hoping to have it finished before Corbin was born, but pregnancy and other issues prevented it. I’m almost done – all of my grandmother’s images are printed, and about half of my images are done, no small feat when you consider how large I’m printing these.
I’ve had an issue with the concept that’s been holding me back from the start. From the beginning of the project, I shot images that puzzled me. I couldn’t tell you why I was shooting them, or what they meant to me. From a conceptual standpoint, that’s a huge problem. If I can’t clearly articulate my concept, how am I, the artist, supposed to get the concept across to you, the viewer? I kept plodding along, trying to understand what my subconscious was trying to tell me.
One recent night at 2:00am while I was doing baby things in a sleepy stupor, it hit me – I knew exactly what I was doing with the concept. My whack-a-doodle- thought process finally finished computing and spit out the results to my conscious brain. It didn’t make going back to sleep easier, but now I know the direction I’m going, and what, exactly, I’m trying to say with this project.
To backtrack for a minute: Project Joy is a combination of my grandmother’s images, and my own. I never knew my grandmother, she died when my mother was 6 years old. A few years ago, my mother asked me to work on a photo album of images my grandmother took: she was a photographer. After scanning the 200 some images into a digital file, I was fascinated with what the shots revealed about a woman I’d never met. I decided to combine some of these images with my work dealing with my relationship with my grandparents.
While I was working on the project, it took on a much more emotional vein: my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly afterward, just before Corbin was born.
I realized that much of my emotions towards this project had to do with regret as well as grief – I never knew my grandmother, and I barely knew my grandfather, despite growing up practically next door to him. My conceptual breakthrough on the images made me realize that I had internalized the Catholic custom of lighting candles for the dead – I took that concept and made it my own for this project. It’s funny to me that the direction this project took was wholly subconscious – I may have decided what I wanted the project to be, but my creative process had the last say in the matter.
Because of that, this image has no place in my project. While the subject is the only physical possession I have from my grandmother, it doesn’t fit the direction the project took.