Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Withers

A few years ago my mother showed me an old photograph of my great-grandparents and my grandmother taken sometime around 1919 , the year they immigrated from England. The year is a guess based on the apparent age of my grandma in the picture. I took the picture home, scanned it and cleaned up all the scratches and stains. I was able to give a cleaned up copy in a frame to my mother along with the original. While I was cleaning up the image I became fascinated with my great-grandparents' apparent discomfort with getting their picture taken. We are used to getting our pictures taken all the time, but this was probably quite an event for them. The picture appears to be taken in front of a backdrop. They are wearing overcoats which leads me to guess that it was taken by a street photographer. My great-grandparents are leaning into each other awkwardly and staring at the camera. Grandma is standing between them with a hand on her hip calmly looking into the lens. She seems much more comfortable. Just like the young lead the way with new technology now.
After working on the photo I decided to do a painting of the picture. The colors are, of course, a guess. Great-grandpa was wearing a pin in the photo which I decided should be an American flag pin. And I changed the background to a ocean pier, symbolic of their immigrating.
I was very close to my grandma and great-grandma, but I never knew my great grandfather. This painting was a way to connect to the part of my family no longer with us.
I continue to be fascinated with the photograph. A copy is pinned on the memo board over my drawing table.


1 comment:

Andrew Wales said...

Something about this reminds me of a Magritte. Put a floating castle in the sky and you're there!