Chapter Three: K-12 Family Photo Project
My Family Album project continued from 2003 until 2017. Throughout that period I travelled to Ellendale many times. Initially I photographed the landscape, but quickly transitioned to photographing the people who inhabited the landscape. While interacting with residents of a retirement community, I became increasingly aware of the intimate connection that exists between photography and memory. Most residents rooms resembled shrines to their existence. Walls were adorned with framed photographs of significant people and life events. What’s worth remembering was abbreviated to a handful of photographs. Inspired by that realization, I began to incorporate the use of family photographs as catalysts for sharing life-stories. My technique was straightforward. I asked each person to identify a most significant family photograph, and then share associated stories. When I was invited to spend four-months in Ellendale as the town’s first Artist in Residence, I engaged the same technique with approximately eight-hundred local-residents - five-years old, to one-hundred years old. As a direct consequence of that experience, intergenerational community engagement, via the genre of family photography, emerged to become a major theme within my personal art practice and my teaching.