Monday, March 10, 2008


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Experiment 2/25/08 with Aunt

Meeting with Jesseca Ferguson February 17, 2008

I would like my photography to touch, engage provoke emotion; I would like the viewer to identify with it. In other words I would like there to be universality in my work.

At this time it is hard to peg what my images are. It is clear that I like to put myself in these images so there is a performance aspect to them. I do this because this work is personal, about me and at this time I feel it is I to be in them, as it is myself who is experiencing this life.

I notice that light and movement entrance me. I believe this is why I have been wearing my mother’s white wedding dress and using white materials to create almost an ethereal feeling. I believe this is a start for bringing universality to my work because of its ghostly qualities can take the viewer to another place.

Guiding this work is the death of my mom. How do I feel 10 years after her passing away? I initially went down this road because I wanted to bring intimacy to my work.

This event of my mother dying was extremely tragic and altered my life. Because she was sick during my adolescent years, I feel that it shaped me as a person more than other events. But, that is the thing. I don’t know that for sure. Maybe I would be the same person I am if she didn’t die. Questions like these make me search for an identity or aspects of me that is without being completely tainted from the death of my mom. Does this identity exist? Can I separate them?

Below are the lists of ideas addressing topics, integration of content, books, artists and finally ‘assignments’ to experiment with to see where the successes lie and what the work reveals.

Representing loss:
Appear to perform for camera.
How to do a portrait of someone who is not here anymore?
How do we remember someone?
What keeps someone alive for me?
Experience past memory

Rimma and Valery Gerlovina Russians who incorporate text within photographs.
Think about how to incorporate text into image so that it is in harmony with the subject.

How to make image appeal to people?
Not apparent time or place, this is shown in location and setting.
Location and settings that are obscure.

Francesca Woodman, universal in her work. Her use of framing is very deliberate.
Cig Harvey, performance, universality, commercial, Maine landscape

Trace: flour, white dandelion, inside from milkweed pods, soapsuds
10 images of old house, forgotten, abandoned
Aunt: her feet and mine on bed
Fragments, parts
Who was she?: Revisit who was mom was to me, who she was to other people. Interviews: How do you remember my mother?
Time: sand, snow
Cairn on heart
Project small version of mom on my heart
Afghan water, found body
Playing with artificial and natural light and low exposure times.

Think of some Final forms:
Diptych, Triptych, (mom, both, me)
Slideshow, series of 5

Artists and Literature:
Jim Goldberg- Rich or Poor
Geoffrey Bach- Forget Me Not
Camera Lucida- p. 67 Wintergarden photo
Rebecca Solnit, “A field Guide to Getting Lost”
Impression of something that used to be there. A mark that remains.
Jo Spence and Joan Solomn. What can a woman do with a camera
Lorie Novak, projects on to outside things
Robo Kocan- use of light and environment

Monday, February 18, 2008

Feb 08 photos

Residency Summary Fall 2008

Suggestions from critiques

• Be careful of writing and lights how it adds to you photos.
• Research from women and marriage project will inform work with my mom more. Don’t see any conflict or tension in the work. Tension is only phone in documentary photography
• Who are you in this environment of Maine
• Look at feminist work. Research everything about gender between now and next residency. Notion of Identity and family relationships. Inform yourself about your universe.
• Find your position in relations to all of these issues.
• Internal Journey
• You can’t just make happy art. This is what media does. Ideal happiness, why can’t happiness be in art?

• Views of marriage: Interior, cultural, historic
• Look into the larger cultural aspects of marriage.
• Do more work just to see where it goes.
• Look at your own family snapshots for research and inspiration.
• Resolve the form and content issue.
1. Look at your loss for inspiration.
2. What are you trying to say with your work?
• Use an “unloaded” visual link in images.

• Don’t worry about finding diversity in my women and marriage project. Asking people who aren’t white to be interviewed about marriage would be a greater insult.
• Women and Marriage. Interview and Photograph women who are: undertakers, marriage councilors, same sex marriage, arranged marriage, nun etc. . .

• Bigger Prints
• Showing white is distracting
• The multi image content in compelling
• The two “horizontal” images have a darker/tragic emotional appeal.
• The family marriage shots are less impressive then the single subject.

• Less David Hockney style. More layers blending in. Small detail information begins to look like a painting.
• Photograph the environment that these women lived in.
• If you use a light box be prepared to defend the use of one.

• Stronger sense of light and place.
• Create a self-portrait in the style of my women and marriage series. Combine the two ideas of movement, light and place
• Is your point about other people or yourself?*
• Nice for your viewer to decode, revisit, and decode again.
• Do things that make you uncomfortable.
• Slow down, tripod, Portraits without person but objects.
• Photograph mother’s objects without being nostalgic because the pieces will already be nostalgic
• Layer the audio. Still have every voice be distinctive and understandable.

• Make a physical collage. Use different size snapshots, try foam core.
• If you want to experiment more with this I would definitely try not to make it happen in one picture.

Artist suggestions
Anna Gaskell Jacques Serges Sally Mann Reneke Dijkastra
Cindy Sherman Lalla Essaydi Tierney Gurnom Patrick Sullivan
Tina Barney Lou Jones Shimon Attie Cecily Brown
Mona Hatum Rene Cox Annette Menzr Anna Medita
Loretta Lucx Katy Grannan Laura McPhee Julie Blackmon
John Cage Winkur Dawoud Bay Josh Gleason
Olivia Parker SA Bachman Denise Markia Wangetchi Mutu
Starn Twins David Hockney Jenny Holzer Gillian Wearing

Mom ideas generated at the residency
• Picture to sum up my entire relationship to me mother. (Triptych, collage,)
Feelings Before:
1. Humor
2. Love, support, encouragement
3. Best Friends
4. Level Headed.
5. Confident
6. Faith

Feelings After:
1. Abandonment
2. Without guidance,
3. Loss of childhood, onset of adulthood at an early age.
4. Loss of unconditional love, acceptance, support.
5. Uncertainty
6. Resilient

• Use “unloaded” objects of mom and photography.
• Collage photographs of my mother with images of me.
• Photograph of my mom, allow to disintegrate outdoors.
• Using the inside of a milkweed pod, release as I was releasing her ashes.
• Family framed photographs like gravestones.


After my fall residency I feel that I have two directions in which to proceed this semester. I brought to AIB two projects that I wanted to take further; the first is a mix of documentary and fine art. I interviewed women on marriage and using collage with digital images in Photoshop recreated a David Hockney influence collage that represented what each of these women thought of marriage. The second project is drawn from the death of my mom. I have experimented taking images revolving around my feelings of her loss and what it means to me not only in my past, and current life but my future.

As I went into the residency I almost didn’t put up the images I had taken revolving around the death of my mom as I thought they were trivial and elementary because of the wedding dress. My first critique was with Oscar Palacio and his first response surprised me.

“I am drawn to the series revolving your mother. There are culturally ingrained stereotypes of women. The composites are interesting but things really come together with work with the mother. The wedding dress is loaded, cultural stereotypes, feminist. Be careful of writing and lights and how it adds to your photos. Research with the women and marriage will inform you work with mom.”

I was taken back with the interest in my images from my mom. I believe the women and marriage project which; I began after taking pictures about my mom allowed me to step back and give myself perspective to this personal work. But instead of using the women and marriage as a means of self discovery I really would like to dig deeper into the mother project and find out why I am compelled to do it. What am I to discover about myself and better understand?

“Load yourself with feminist work. It is about gender. You need to read everything about gender between now and next residency. Notions of identity and family relationships. Fine your position in relation to all of these issues.”

My reaction to Oscar’s group critique was one where I was please and defeated at the same time. I was glad that he had liked the photos revolving around my mom but at the same time. I abandoned that project, left it, because I felt that it was clichĂ©. I thought about what people said in the past that it is a very loaded project to do and that most people aren’t successful with subjects that are so personal to them. I think I need to stop worrying about what people say and just create. See what happens. The following is feedback on the same project from my critique with Jan Avgikos.

“I like this project a lot. I love the text on the body it is visually very beautiful. It’s not specific as to where we are in the world. There is a lot of work where you can go here. Experiment with different times of day, dawn and twilight.”

The positive feedback on this project was like an adrenalin shot to me and as I contemplated it I feel that I have a better idea what this project is about. I addressed the project as “images revolving around the loss of my mom” but I believe this is more about my identity. A significant portion I have associated to my identity is the fact that I am a motherless daughter (and that I am from Joisey). It shaped me at a very young age and traces of it are all over me. The question is: is this project really about not having a mother or is it about my identity? I believe the first images that I produce, relate being motherless and as I progress in this work, they will evolve into my identity. Will the loss of my mom still be ingrained in these photos? Of course, but I there will be more depth into the imagery because, I am more than a motherless daughter. With that said this project should be renamed to a working name of “identity”.

Women and Marriage

Regarding the women and marriage project I feel that at this time, it is a better basis for a thesis, as that it relates to many people throughout the world both male and female. There is also a large history regarding women and marriage. Despite this, I feel I should just go straight to the source and discover the issues of identity in my mother project. If I do choose to go forth and develop a thesis on women and marriage how do I make the portraits more compelling and draw people in?

I met with Sunanda who was my old advisor and we didn’t really talk about the mother project, he did say however, that he did not know where it could go in terms of my thesis. Not that is impossible to rework but I would have to be careful. He saw the women and marriage project as a more solid direction for my thesis as long as I combined audio.

“With the digital manipulation it has been done but, to add sound then that will take it to the next step. It will make it more than a formal experiment, using the audio, listen and strategize your visual. By doing this the mode of display the medium changes.”

In a way to incorporate the audio and echo the layered images Deborah suggested the idea of layering.

“Maybe edit the audio so it is bit and pieces of various voices. Layer the audio, mix it up but, make it clear.”

Deborah Davidson spoke of choosing women for that project who are most interesting to me. This was after having a conversation both with her and Sunanda on the lack of diversity within my subjects. The reality is that I live in rural Maine and I am not claiming to represent a diverse population of women. I am guided in choosing people I know and what peaks my interest in these individuals.

Another challenge that Deborah along with other faculty and students was to figure out how to get the effective image in the younger women portraits that I have in the older. The key elements appear to be one person within the shot and within their home environment in addition to focusing on the mementos in their homes. In the same regard Deborah said that she didn’t think audio was essential if I had images as convincing as these (older women).

To shake things up for me on my women and marriage project was Jan. She was not shy about what she saw.

“I don’t like them. I don’t like the concept of putting all of these photographs together in a collage but still holding on to the snapshot. There are too many dead zones and I feel that I have to edit a lot out. Things that are clear in the collage are not that interesting. There is too much unusable information and that does not serve the subject.”

“I think you are a documentary photographer. That is the substance as to what you are dealing with here. And you are experimenting different ways to present it. If anything go back to the Hockney mode and use in a more literal sense.”

When I asked Jan for a direction to go in she suggested experimenting with physical collage cutting and using different size snap shots; try placing things on foam core. These were suggestions and of course no promise for success but worth experimenting.

Leaving the residency the general consensus was that the images revolving around my mother were more compelling to people in my critiques than the images having to do with my women and marriage project. The caveat is that the women and marriage project was better for developing a thesis. Marriage is common in most cultures and addressed in different ways, this has been a record throughout centuries.

I see the two projects related. They both involve feminine issues in general and with a focus on women and marriage. The personal one of mine does incorporate marriage but it is united under the umbrella of issues that represents the identity of myself as a motherless daughter in her late 20’s. I believe at my age and especially living in rural Maine the thought of marriage does indeed occupy my mind. Part of me could see the two projects uniting but I am not sure where it would come together.

When I talked to Deborah Davidson, my new advisor, about pursuing both of these projects this semester she said, just make sure I have the time because I will have to do a lot of work. She also said by creating more work on the mother project that I might come to some revelations. The possibility of that is greatly satisfying and I intend to evolve in this work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Project Proposal on Marriage

What is marriage to the female population from all ages and backgrounds?

For many women marriage is understood as being part of life, something that will happen. Once it does there is lots of pomp and circumstance around the ceremony event and then it ends.

Afterwards the crescendo of what love and marriage dies down and the partnership takes its own life. What is that life? What is a view of a woman in a loveless, a happy, or a controlling marriage like?

What if you have never been married? How do you view a union? How does your cultural or social economic background influence your opinion on marriage? Does it?
How does a parents’ marriage affect the future relationships or marriage of their children?

This endeavor it see what the female’s perception of marriage is unveiled by asking several simple questions on marriage and recording their responses. In their own words how does a child comprehend marriage, a single woman in her 30’s, a divorcĂ©e, a same sex union, and a marriage lasting generations?

How will these submissions on marriage lay upon me or anyone who experiences this project?

The second component of this project is the portrait of these females. When presenting the project to these women, I ask them to think about something that makes them think of marriage and go from their on photographing them. At this time I am taking full portraits as well as partial portraits in the style of David Hockney where I would use many images to make one portrait.

It is my hope to build these images of the individual in a slide show format as their audio on the idea of marriage runs until the end when you have a full portrait of them.

This documentary is currently a work in progress.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14th

Okay, new direction for Brooke. I am going to interview females of all ages and backgrounds on marriage. From little girls to women in their 90's.

Now for photos . . . I have some ideas and I want your feedback. Should I do portraits of these women in their wedding dresses, my mom's wedding dress, no dress when they don't have their own, a veil? Or let them choose their pose and attire?

Same background, cloth back drop (I think I might do some at school here) how do I light it?

I was also thinking of presenting in an audio slide show like a David Hockney piece with various pictures of them materializing one at a time to create their complete portrait as their audio on what marriage is to them runs.

I hope to do some over this Thanksgiving week and will post some of the results.