The White Columns Curated Artist Registry is an online catalog of digital images documenting the work of artists who are not affiliated with a commercial gallery in New York City. Each submission is reviewed by our curatorial staff; in order to be considered for the registry, one must submit work digitally via this website.
I am fascinated by the construction of history: what is retained, what is forgotten or overshadowed, and the little mysteries that can never be solved. I find myself drawn to individuals and bodies of knowledge that have been marginalized or criticized - the same missteps or flawed postulations that have been critical to the advancement of our current knowledge - and to the things that are not wholly resolved, still open to dismantling, conjecture, and interpretation.
Throughout my projects, I research historical connections and uncertainties and use them as points of departure for creating visual works. I am particularly interested in the ways one can incorporate the past into the present to create new meaning and to enhance the production of ideas in relation to both. My studies have often focused on the 18th and 19th centuries, as originating sources for many fields of contemporary inquiry and as a time when science, art, and literature consistently overlapped.
My current project is in progress and will incorporate the the themes of nature and the "nature morte" - the woods, still lives, doubling, decay, traces and transformation. Two of my completed projects included here are Scarcely a leaf or limb was left, Reposantes, Wedgwood, and Greetings from Oil Country.
Scarcely a leaf or limb was left is a series of opalotypes inspired by the Battle of Gettysburg, phantom limbs and the work of Silas Weir Mitchell. The project is still in progress. During the Civil War, Silas Weir Mitchell treated wounded soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg. It was through this work that Mitchell eventually coined the term phantom limb to describe the "sensory ghosts" patients would often experience after amputations - the feeling that the missing limb was still present, active, and receptive to sensation. Over the course of several visits to the Gettysburg battlefield, I've photographed locations where there were significant casualties and where amputations were known to have occurred. The project will explore where and when phantom limbs come into being - on the battlefield, in the field hospital, at the moment of wounding, amputation, and recovery. By choosing to print wet-plate collodion opalotypes, I'm using a process that was contemporary to the times, but without attempting to reproduce historic photographs. The opalotype's translucency seemed a perfect way to evoke the absent/present duality of the phantom limb phenomenon. In photographing mostly landscape views, I also sought to capture the descriptive language of amputation, which borrows heavily from tree terms - limb, branch, stump, etc. Gettysburg is often considered to be the most 'haunted' battlefield. But regardless of whether one believes or denies the existence of ghosts, we do know that phantoms were made on that battlefield.
Reposantes is a group of works inspired by Jean-Martin Charcot's hysteria patients at the Salpetriere hospital. In a series of photographs, embroidered texts, and a sculptural object, I explore the ideas of translation, reenactment, and the broken narratives of hysteria. The Reposantes photographs are restagings of original photographs from the Iconographies photographiques de la Salpetriere published in the 1870s. The original images were used to create visual records of the patients' symptoms - particularly illustrating the four phases of Charcot's concept of the hysterical attack. However, many of the photographs do not convey the signs or symptoms of obvious illness or disorder. This inability to translate the patients' illness into photographic documents is what initially interested me in these images and what I sought to capture in reenacting and rephotographing the scenes. Also by reenacting the patients' poses, I explored the performative and imitative aspects of hysteria - it's history of imitating different illnesses and other culturally available symptoms, the Salpetriere's experiments in inducing attacks through hypnotism, and the accusations of simulation that were leveled against the patients.
Instead of using one iconic photograph for each element of the attack, I've used several versions of each image to emphasize the duration and posturing involved in the photographic process. Most of the original photographs from the Iconographies were taken in the Salpetriere's photography studio and not in the wards. The grid layout both constructs and deconstructs a narrative sequence. The entire group of photographs can be read in one direction illustrating a complete attack in order. In another, the ordered sequence becomes confused and meaningless. The narrative can also be viewed in randomly selected, abbreviated groupings - and no grouping of three or more photographs in any direction is ever the same or repeated.