photos of home



While rummaging around in an antique shop in Cold Spring, NY (which by the way has about 10,000 antique shops, but this was the only good one), I found a pile of old photographs going for 25 cents apiece. I bought 25 of them, and talked the woman down to $5 for the lot. Some of them are nice the way they are, and I think I'll just mount them on some nice paper, but some, like these, seemed to need some embellishment.

Here are three of the decorated ones. They are collaged mainly with tracing paper that has been colored with pencils, as well as cut paper, and I've used ink, lead pencil and pen as well. In order, they're called Garden, 1945, and Wonder. I did not label 1945; it came that way. Wonder is my favorite so far, as I feel it really captures what I think of when I think of 1950s America, full of youth and hope and earnestness, but with this undercurrent of fear and impending doom. Wonder is sort of a child's idea of war and widespread destruction as something far away, almost like a fairy tale, romanticized in movies and television and abated in the adult world by those romanticized accounts, and by the idea of being righteous and wholesome. While the kid is thinking about war, it's clear that that kid is still innocent to its realities, but the point is that the society prefers to think of war as a fantasy.

The photos are images of various families, like the people seen in the first and third photo here. I have a few of the woman in Garden, one of which had been hand colored. There are also a few that appear to be photos of someone's WWII combat tour, a mountain, random awkward snapshots of babies and girls and families, and a very faded and weird-feeling nineteenth century group portrait. I would guess that they range in time, excluding the one from the 1800s, from the 1920s through the early 1960s. The woman at the shop told me that most came from a particular estate, and that she knew some information about the woman whose estate it was. I like to think this woman is the woman seen in the first photo here, but there's no evidence for that.

They were someone's memories at one time, but their original meaning has been lost, I suppose. All that's left of what they used to be is the image itself, without further context; all we can understand about them is what we see, and of course what we bring to them, because we are lacking any other information. All you can do is look at them and react emotionally, since that's all you have. And that's what I did here, essentially. I attempted to capture visually the feeling that each photo gave me. Garden is a family blooming out of the snow (see the dog at the far right, just next to the woman's shoulder), 1945 is a summer after a conflict, and Wonder is a child's brightly-colored imaginings about the world at large.

I was also pleased at the preexisting hoodie these pictures gave me.