Friday, May 8, 2009
Spirits of the Secret Keepers
Above, Katie John
Oh, those crumbling, crackling, aging, molding doll faces! What does my love of them say about me? I'm still trying to come up with a concise "artists statement" about that. I suspect that it has more to do with rejecting perfection than embracing decomposition but perhaps there is no difference between the two.
My Secret Keepers series has been a way to look intimately into the faces of characters I've met along the way, literally if not figuratively. They are so named because these particular inanimate beings hold countless secrets. These dolls were loved, coddled, thrown, lost. They overheard quiet giggles, jubilant birthday parties, arguments and pillow-muffled sobs. They witnessed unspeakable pain and unconditional love.
Recently I began processing the photos in a different way. Converting them to black and white, save for a feature or two, brings a haunting interpretation. Solarizing them accentuates the crevices and gives surreal outlines to what has become more a personality than a doll. The reaction is immediate; Are you repulsed? Feeling maternal? Are you yearning for your own innocence or you do you simply wonder what the story is behind each creature? Because these images are more haunting than the original series, I call them Spirits of the Secret Keepers.
I've worked on this series for about two and a half years now and still love it. I'm always looking for dolls to add to the series, so please let me know if you have any you think might be appropriate. They will of course be returned unscathed, so to speak. One woman brought me a doll that she was holding in her arms like a baby. "Will you take good care of her?" she asked as if it were an infant. They are extensions of ourselves. At least extension of aspects of ourselves. For this reason I consider each one to be a portrait rather than a still life.