Artist Christopher Murphy paints memories, using old family photographs as source material. He paints the Hoover Dam, large family gatherings, his younger self, and more. Murphy’s work is technically very good, and the realistic renderings of his paintings to look like photographs. They also depict quiet moments. While a lot of them involve people, there is very little tension among subjects. Colors are desaturated, which ages the look of them. Murphy spoke to New American Paintings about his work. He describes the overarching theme of his paintings, as well as his decision to use old photographs for reference. He says:
Imagination playfully cavorts with authenticity to fabricate the essence of memory. It is at this intersection, between the poles of fiction and truth, that my current paintings and drawings are situated. Issues of contrast, specifically of finding harmony between dissonant elements, have been a constant theme in my work. I see my paintings as opportunities to explore the conceptual contrasts of reality versus illusory and permanence versus ephemeral as applied to memory.
I choose old family photographs (largely culled from my own family’s albums, but supplemented with a selection of found photos from estate sales and thrift stores) to serve as the basis for my work, because of their unique qualities of semi-permanence, staged semblance, and ostensible candidness. In these photos, skies fade to pale yellows, skin tones sink, and details blur and grow fainter with time. Sometimes, dated technology necessitated blank stares or static poses, caused colors to skew, or impacted the framing of an image. By either exaggerating or minimizing these characteristics, along with re-contextualizing figures and objects or dramatically re-staging the action of a photo, the divisions are obscured between the reality that existed at the moment of the photograph, the memories of that moment, and the possibilities of reality that are presented in my work.
Daddy Bunny (7 ½) Height 14” -Belongs to: Zoe Bracken
Flopsie (6) Height 14″ Belongs to: Lua Spencer
Photographer Mark Nixon creates portraits of worn-out vintage teddy bears in the series Much Loved Bears. These nostalgic portraits immortalize the innocence of youth; better yet, the goodness and appreciation of a child, as they hold on to the old with no remorse. The photographs are paired with text provided by the owner and they are part of a book called Much Loved.
The funny looking portraits project a sense of irony, as seeing the teddy bear, a signifier of early age, and their ‘wear’ and ‘tear’, a signifier of old age, together generate an interesting tension between the two. The battered teddy bears are a symbol of love, respect and friendship- moreover an undenying preservation of a friend that was important, and therefore hard to replace.
“When you see these teddy bears and bunnies with missing noses and undone stuffing, you can’t help but think back to childhood and its earliest companions who asked for nothing and gave a lot back.”
It feels as if these photographs also expound on a critical string of thoughts regarding the journey of becoming older, and what it means to be an owner of something today. The fact that we so easily get rid of ‘damaged’ material things with the eagerness of wanting more and ‘better’ is something that contrasts Nixon’s attention to the teddy bear’s ‘battlescars’; for a kid,however, the damaged but useful and loved, is not something to easily get rid of. (Via My Modern Met)
Have you ever thought about how people will remember you when you are gone? Do you wish to be remembered in a particular way? Perhaps with a specific outfit, or at a specific age? Why would you have someone else choose the picture? You have a choice while you are alive.
Belgian photographer Frieke Janssens is offering her services in order to create the ultimate headshot, the one that you would like on your grave and everyone’s minds once you’ve past away.
The eerie yet beautiful and polished headshots are Janssens’ way to change people’s mindsets when it comes to ideas of death and memory. The series of ‘Your Last Shot’ reflects a combination of the sitter’s wishes and the photographer’s style. With make up assistance, styling and post-production, Jenssen creates master portraits that defy the ugliness that death brings about. In a sense, having a say on what you’ll look like to those alive when you are dead is a way to take control. This will perhaps leave us a bit more at ease about the whole death process.
The ‘last portrait’ will be finished in porcelain so that it can actually be used when the time comes.
“My personal preference goes to static portraits as they were taken at the occasion of weddings at the beginning of the 20th century. My aim is to make an iconic portrait that is beautiful, serene and fearless, preferably with a gentle smile, indicating that the model is clearly aware of the fact that this portrait will be used for a very long time to come.”
You can check the project’s website to find out more on how you can participate- it is a limited time thing,so if you want in, go check it out now!
Julie Schenkelberg makes installations that look like domestic earthquakes. Her monumental pieces talk to us about the collective memory we share in objects and its inevitable disintegration. As most all domestic objects have some sort of function, their ubiquity–tables, chairs, lamps, plates, etc in every home– is a sign that our experience of the life is much more communal than individual, and likewise our memories. Julie takes the objects of our experience and compiles them into globs of memory, as they are probably situated in our own brains. But, like our own memories, she shows us these objects as broken and decaying in structures that look strong and sound but are, in the grand scheme of things, utterly tenuous. Her work is physical poetry at its best.