During a year-long illness, I spent a lot of time in bed looking at photography books. A series of vernacular anonymous nudes from 1843-1910 made me restless. It wasn't just the finality of the title, “Anonymous” but wonder about the relationship between photographer and subject. When they undressed in front of the camera, could they have imagined becoming part of a twentieth century art collection?
I found myself inventing backstories about what they might have looked like on another day outside the photographers studio.
As part of my recovery, I began digitally removing them from their original studio setting and then photographing an alternate environment. These places can be physical environments like the woods or the beach as well as imaginary places using handmade emulsions like Van Dyke or Cyanotype. Hand sewn embroidery cloaks that original vulnerable moment. I seek to entice a viewer to get close to perhaps foster a conversation beyond the "Anonymous" title. For me each unique print is an echo of the original, akin to a distant, imagined descendant.
As historian Eric Foner writes, "Who owns history? Everyone and no one, which is why the study of the past is a constantly evolving, never ending journey of discovery.”