Kelly Hider, Birthday, 26″ x 24″
Girl/Power Triangle (featured on the cover of No. 85) harkens back to a series you did in 2011 which sprung entirely from a cache of one family’s photographs you’d found in an antique store. You augmented them — adding painted shadows, sequins and/or picture frames, in a way seems coded somehow. Looking back on the series now, can you read a language in those marks? Why a shadow here, a sequin there?
You’re referring to my MFA Thesis work, Bury Me in the Garden. A general answer is that the visual language used to manipulate the images becomes a way for me to embellish the already cryptic narrative the photos lay out. The shadows exist to create a tangible measure of foreshadowing. I would study this box of discarded photographs multiple times, and while instances of a blissful domestic life were all accounted for — weddings, family vacations, birthdays, etc.— I was unable to discern the events that led to the photos being abandoned. A death or divorce are reasonable guesses, but I will never know for sure. I asked the woman who owned the antique store if she knew any history about the photos and how she acquired them, and she didn’t have an answer or didn’t want to disclose. Lacking any clues within the photos, the India-ink-painted-shadows become the nondescript foreboding elements; like the shadow of a monster creeping up behind a figure in cartoon, only when they turn their head the shadow vanishes. The viewer is able to see the shadows, but the figures in the pieces can’t foresee their own destiny, like how one can clearly understand an issue better with hindsight.
While the sequins sometimes take the form of shadows or ghosts, they visually counter the dated quality of the yellowed, 1980s photos, and bring the scenes back to life in a way. Resurrecting them, albeit in a sort of pathetic, class-aware way. They are cheap, plastic rhinestones and used sparsely. I think of them as bandaids — a quick fix. It is not nearly the level of embellishment apparent in, say, Mickalene Thomas’s portraits.
Kelly Hider, from the Bury Me in the Garden series