I have no idea who these children are, but my grandmother shot more than 25 photos of them.
M Y A R T — Above is a cropped and colorized version of a portrait of five children and their mother taken by my grandmother. I don't know who they are, they don't look like any of my grandmother's relatives, but they're absolutely spellbinding, at least to me. I think my grandmother must have been a friend of their mother. I have more than twenty-five negatives of these children in various groupings, along with their mother and perhaps aunts, all gathered on this second-floor porch. I've colorized this one in the subtle manner of a hand-painted vintage photo. The mother's ghost-like image in the door is another evocative feature of this particular image. I also like the strong horizontal siding, the vertical railings and the criss-crossed effect on the porch floor, just barely visible in this version. I love finding geometry in reality, and I often create grids and intersecting lines in my work. They can be as simple as a lead pencil-drawn grid on top of all of the paint layers, or as intricate as fifty layers of thin painted rules creating a plaid of sorts. In Reading Between the Lines below, I've photographed some of my plaid paintings, cut the printouts into thin strips and then used those as vertical stripes like ribbon.
I've used portions of this image in two distinct pieces, with different croppings, The Invention of Separation and Reading Between the Lines.
The Invention of Separation, approximately 20 x 11 inches on pine. This piece shows the right side of the photograph I cropped out in the top image. There was a little girl that was off to the side, apparently not part of the group of five children. There is a piece of a Bach Invention I've played since childhood included as well. I always felt separated from other kids my age for many reasons,—playing the piano was just one reason. It struck me odd that one little girl would be asked to be not in the photo, or chose not to be in it for some reason, yet my grandmother captured her anyway. That six feet of separation seems more like a gulf of emotional distance to me.
Reading Between the Lines—approximately 24 x 15 inches on three vintage clapboards. The young girl's odd, or perhaps quizzical look on her face and her older sister's protective hand on her should spoke volumes to me, but of course I'm guessing, as we all do when we look at old photos. I've included images of some of my antique books and another portrait shot by my grandmother of a woman reading a newspaper outside on a nice summer day. Using the highlights and shadows created by the three dimensional effect of the multiple clapboards adds a layer of physical lines to the mental lines of thought in my Reading Between the Lines.