My mom started collecting figurines in her early twenties during the 1950’s. At first it was one purchase a year. Then she started exchanging gifts with some of her sisters. Soon, she had 3 or 4 new additions each year. I love these porcelain creatures. I’ll never forget anxiously awaiting as my mom and aunts opened their boxes at Christmas. Which lady would it be and what would her dress look like? What color is her hair? My aunts would quickly dust them off and stick them in a glass cabinet. I could see them behind the glass wanting to get out. My mom on the other hand accents the dining room table and living room with these ladies – in red dresses for Christmas, green dresses for spring…. They are odd little trinkets, a bit creepy, and absolutely beautiful.
I started photographing the ladies a few years ago. I wanted to capture their delicate features, their minute gestures. Each lady seemed to be frozen in a moment – getting ready for a party, flirting, teaching a class. They have such dramatic flair that comes alive when captured on film. I don’t see dusty, porcelain dolls. What I see are passionate and emotional beings.
I used color slide film to closely examine the detail of their shiny skin, intense eyes and beautiful dresses. Their ghostly gloss can alienate the viewer, so I decided to add another layer by making polaroid transfers of them. Their spooky veneer morphs into a more intimate glow, and the mood becomes warmer. I feel as if I am looking at old family photos of women or pictures dead family relatives. After looking at the tiny polaroid transfers, I decided to enlarge them on archival paper or sometimes on fabric for a more theatrical aesthetic. Having never seen them enlarged before, I was surprised to see how impressionistic they feel.
I incorporate this haunting quality into many of my photographs. Growing up in an old home and being part of a large family has influenced how I see the world. I am the youngest of five children and have many aunts and uncles. Plenty of lore gets passed down in large families. By the time I came around, my family had many tales of people from their past. The LADIES depict this other world.