How political unrest and COVID led to these beautiful images of diners

What do you hope people take away from this series?

I think the photographs are quite open, and I like that. I just did an MFA, and I was honestly quite bullied by the fact that my work wasn’t super well accepted in school, so I’m really sick of the work that you have to know what the artist intended or it doesn’t make sense. Or a work that you have to read a lot of critical theory to understand.

I love the fact that, on the one hand, the people in the towns I photographed seemed to enjoy the work. They write me on Instagram or came to my recent show. So in that case, maybe they’re just removing [that it’s a beautiful photograph] Where It’s somewhere my grandfather goes after his doctor’s appointment. I have heard that. It’s a place that’s familiar to me. Anything people take out of a photo is okay. I heard that the idea of ​​a kind of sadness and division came without even reading my artist statement.

I would love for us all to try to find a way to get along. I don’t know how it works. It looks like the system is down right now. When I was doing this work, I was trying to look very closely at this American myth and think deeply about it. I feel like if we all take a closer look, is there any common ground we can find? I don’t know, and it’s super difficult, and there are some topics that I don’t think there’s common ground on, and there shouldn’t be – but let’s -U.S ? How are we going to move forward as a country? I don’t know, so I was trying to explore that with these images, and I hope people will think a little more.

What did you learn while shooting this series?

When I was doing the work, I started getting really scared at times because of the signage around certain political and other ideologies. Things that I encountered in certain cities, I felt deeply upset or frustrated or angry or scared, anxious, confused… all these things when I came across these violent slogans. My husband often drives me, and he stopped wanting to go out into the world and drive me around because he would be very upset too.

So part of it was trying not to instantly judge a place or a person based on how they looked or what I expected. Don’t expect something negative all the time. It’s difficult. I was really worried about what happened to me during the Trump era, how I sometimes saw someone and judged them, that they might have certain political beliefs, and I don’t think that helps to anyone. So going to all these little towns and going to so many places in Pennsylvania, which is a big swing state. And you can go to a place where Donald Trump had been the day before. I found that scary. I try to have a more open mind and not judge someone before talking to them. It was the most basic thing [I learned].

How has working as a waiter from time to time influenced your perspective?

I photographed what are called “third spaces”, spaces where we find ourselves outside of home and work, which were mainly diners and restaurants. I’ve been a waitress on and off for 17 years, so I was thinking how very aware I am of having an income that depends on tips, and that really changes from day to day, and how much that can being precarious and how many of us here live that way.

So I thought about it during the pandemic because I lived that way myself. I was thinking about the spaces themselves and who worked there, or who had worked there, because a lot of those places have closed since I photographed them. The restaurant world is personal to me as a place where most of the work we see is done by women. Of course, there are men and women in the kitchen, but more often than not, the one who greets you, especially in a restaurant, will be a woman.

How does color play a role in your work?

I love the color so much, and I think it’s a strong element. [For previous day jobs,] I’ve spent years looking at color in photography to see how it would print in a magazine, and so I think I’m really drawn to that when I’m doing work. But also, like I was saying, I was kind of really dealing with this kind of frustration of this us versus them mentality that seems to be happening and all the fear and anger and anxiety that I was feeling. I tend to shoot in the golden hour, so I harnessed that light to kind of capture an element of joy in sometimes quite complicated environments. I was talking to a curator and I said something like this, and he said, “Oh, so you made your friend light? I guess it’s true, a certain color of light, the warm light at golden hour, is soothing and makes me happy. So if I was out there and slightly scared or upset or confused, that would be something very personal to me, and it would be an experience for me that would hopefully come back into the work.

Comments are closed.