Dolls are the small, portable representations of human beings that have been produced through the ages and across the globe as a way to encapsulate and manipulate human life. Possessed, they have long served as powerful links between spirit and body, imagination and reality. From fertility relic to religious icon, from voodoo curse to child’s play troll, we use them to understand and shape our lives. And until very recently, few cultures distinguished between those created for rituals and those given for play.
Almost 30,000 years old, the Venus of Willendorf is among the first sculptures and the first dolls. Most people think the “Venus” is a statue, but at only 4 inches tall it is roughly the same size as the mother doll in my photographs.
Incredibly different yet equally palm-sized these two objects have power beyond their size. and can loom large in the imagination of individuals and cultures.
Water animates my work as it animates all life. Whether liquid or frozen, in droplets or ponds, it serves as both metaphor and lens. Worn remnants of plastic and metal are transformed when fractured through panes of ice, reflected in liquid windows, or swathed in sodden paper or petals.
I work exclusively outdoors, in ambient light, using a variety of natural materials and vintage objects. Intuitive and improvised, all my images are created in-camera, sometimes using a tripod, but mostly hand-held. I do all my own printing on a variety of papers.
Just as glass is created by intense heat, ice is formed by intense cold. Both are fragile, reflective, and transparent. And both can create life-framing windows and mirrors, lenses that fill photographic frames with narrative possibilities. Fire and ice—polar opposites, they define the extremes of human emotion and like magnets, exert their power as we seek equilibrium.
These are portraits of souls veiled in doubt. We live in a perpetual state of mediation between affirming or denying our most basic desires. We wake to the tension between wanting to embrace life or just disappear, to rise up to meet the world or sink down to rest forever.
These images imbue commonplace objects with the heart's deepest longings and fears. Both encircled and isolated by elements of the natural world, the figures become metaphors for our conflicted vision of life.
From birth cauls to death shrouds we are caught between worlds, sometimes only momentarily, sometimes more permanently. Some emerge from this transitional space, others do not.
An eerie calm descends when the rains cease, the hurricane blows over, an angry god is appeased. Fast-moving water can float things never meant to ride the waves, and strange, often strangely beautiful scenes appear before us. Odd craft drift by—dinette sets, quilted settees—and we wonder at the sight of someone too lost or too tired to swim.
From the safety of higher ground we see houses sinking as the water rises, steadily, stealthily—wild currents untamed by the banks they break, the walls they breach. Warm springs fill houses that no longer protect but entomb as water flows through windows—glass gone, bars blocking any escape.
Floods can be an overflow of water or an outpouring of tears. These are images of the river’s fullness and the heart’s despair. We come from water. We are made of water. And in the end, water not earth will take us.
The details in an empty space can be relentless. But look a little less sharply, a little less critically, and you are left with the undulation of pure emotion. There is no absolute truth. There is only the truth you make for yourself, the stories you tell yourself about yourself. You must find what will suffice.