BLUE JEANS AND FRIENDS
I use a child's rag doll in this series to examine wasteful practices in the textile industry and promote the ideals of sustainability and creative reuse. In artist protest against mass consumption, this work preserves the cultural heritage of the craftsman, venerates tradition, and speaks to the belief of those who maintain that good and their utility should ideally last for generations. The materials used to make the dolls are discarded fabric deemed no longer in fashion or usable. Repurposed and transformed through creativity and ingenuity, the dolls become a symbol of the artisanal process signifying an ideology that promotes sustainability.
KNOWN de PLUME
Throughout history, female authors have been known to conceal their identities by taking up a pen name (nom de plume) so that their voices, through their writings, could be heard and distributed uncensored. It is under this premise by which I began to write with light using photography as a vehicle to open up and discuss issues I have found difficult to verbalize: issues of identity, illness, addiction, abuse, death and recovery. Issues that, for one reason or another, I have not been able to publicly present under my own name until recently.
Towards the end of 2012, my life began to unravel. I had two small children under the age of 5, I was legal caregiver to my 90 year old grandmother who suffered from alzheimer’s/dementia and my husband at the time had fallen ill. As I began to seek out help, I learned about Foucault’s notion of “confessional culture” and its intersections with power, the restraints of discourse and labeling theory. I started to question contemporary society's continued reliance on confessional rooms with codes of anonymity -- codes that seemingly help to reinforce and perpetuate social stigmatization. I also learned that alcoholism is a family disease, a disease that is often described as a tragedy in three-acts. With a background in theatre, this three-act descriptive gave me an immediate way to conceptualize and put into pictures what I could not put into words.
I hope to inspire discussion and change with this work in regards to commonly held attitudes about addiction, and its intersections with gender, identity, abuse and illness. Much of my inspiration comes from the teachings of Bertolt Brecht, whose theory of epic theatre in part states art should be “strongly didactic and capable of provoking social change”.
Today, my perspective is that one must not hide but rather resist those structures and customs that serve to silence voices, trauma and healing in our society. I present this series to shed light on a condition that impacts so many people, and to give voice to those who wish to educate, build community and mobilize recovery without fear of being known.
This series represents a study of Spider Orchids and the process of their decay and ultimate death. During my observation, it appeared that upon death, the Spider Orchids presented a playful spirit that longed to live on. Through these photographs, these beautiful creatures remind me that our strength and renewal often stems from the death of an old self and the birth of a new self.
“From the Ashes of its predecessor, new life is born”
Since the 1900’s, the city of Santa Monica has gone through massive transit transformation; businesses have been torn down, residents displaced. In large part, this has shaped the city more than anything else.
A community staple since 1956, Hastings Plastics served Santa Monica’s residents, businesses and artists for over 50 years. In 2011, its doors were forced to close due to eminent domain for the expansion of the Metro Expo Line station at 17th Street and Colorado. After demolition, employees Eric Warren and Bruce Zelesnik found themselves jobless. Not knowing what to do next, Eric and Bruce, together with Eric’s wife Claudia, salvaged what little remains they could of Hastings Plastics. With their own skills and talents, a sign and a table saw, they opened shop in a garage a few blocks over. Like the mythological Phoenix, their resistance to being displaced from the community led to the birth of what is today known as Santa Monica Plastics.
In keeping with the trajectory of this project, I began the process of sifting through the remains of my personal history and connection to Santa Monica, the history of Hastings Plastics and my connection to the people at Santa Monica Plastics. The result is a series of three photographic montage portraits, Portraits E, B and D, which use plastic remnants, artifacts, and oral histories as source materials. The Hastings Blueprint is a photographic rendering of a rare historical Hastings photograph circa 1960’s. Plastic Apocalypse is the first in a three part series inspired by the closure of Hastings Plastics and ephemera found after demolition with the words catalyst, parting and remains on them which also describe the transformative process one goes through when displacement and disaster strikes and is also the basis for the Label Series. Trains in Transition, a collaborative sound piece created with Bruce Zelesnik, synthesizes the emotional journey of destruction and rebirth. The work pays tribute to those who embrace change but resist erasure through the acts of memory, story telling, and preservation of cultural ephemera as a way to stay connected to the past and to others.