01 Sep Processing Narratives: Artist Statements
New Normal #2 (Dyptich) © Mariana Pereira Vieira
The following statements are about the artwork included in Processing Narratives, an exhibition featuring the photographic work of Heidi Kirkpatrick, Marcy Palmer, Mariana Pereira Vieira, and Melanie Walker at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center October 5 – November 20, 2021.
Throughout my career, I have explored the female figure, family narratives and contemporary issues of being a woman. My intent is to create works of art that are approachable in form and content, are interactive, yet fragile. My work is about the human condition. I create as a direct response to things that happen to me or someone I love. Over the years I have made work about family, the cycle of life, love and loss, and disease. I find inspiration in my garden, from my belongings, my memories, and my love of family.
In Processing Narratives, I present dresses to adorn, gloves to protect, dishes to serve, food to nurture, and my feminine lineage. Family has been a recurring theme in my work since I started making photographs. I work on vintage items that typically no longer fit our modern lifestyle. I love bringing the past to the present by using objects that have been discarded for me to find and breathe new life back into them. My works depart from traditional framing and are presented in vintage embroidery hoops and pin flower frogs, on contemporary renditions of antique glove stretchers, and hung on branches from my garden.
“You Are Eternity”
This project is an exploration of beauty as an antidote for personal and political crisis. In times of heartache, disaster, impasse, many turn to the idea of beauty in the natural world as a place of refuge. Writer and philosopher John O’Donohue states, “I think that beauty is not a luxury, but that it ennobles the heart and reminds us of the infinity that is within us.” That idea resonates with me and inspired this project.
I have used a variety of botanicals in the images, many of them are often overlooked wildflowers or plants. I gild them to recognize and elevate them; this acts as a metaphor for moments of beauty or transcendence in life, but also for people and political change.
The plants and flowers are photographed, printed on vellum, hand gilded with 24k or 18k gold leaf, with applied varnish and wax. The project is inspired by Anna Atkins’s botanical studies as well as surrealist photographers who manipulated imagery and materials such as Florence Henri, Dora Maar, and Maurice Tabard to visualize an imagined realm.
Mariana Pereira Vieira
Spring in the Rocky Mountains is a delightful season of growth and rebirth. Brown patches of dirt or entire mountain sides start to slowly show spurs of green. In March of 2020, while the world was coming to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nature was undeterred – it continued to bloom and blossom, encouraged by the warmer, longer days of Spring, unaffected by the human chaos surrounding it.
One of the first, lasting impacts of the pandemic was the fear of touching. Suddenly, the act of hugging a friend or shaking hands was an act of violence. Touching was loaded with fear of transmission of a deadly disease. I started making these prints to celebrate the human touch. These images record my touch on the surface of the paper, a gesture to symbolize the missed hugs of comfort, support, and love that we could not share with our family and friends. In my backyard, I discovered a world that refused to stop thriving, and used the seedlings of weeds, dandelions, tulips, and vegetables to form a bond with my touch.
The relationship between humans and nature is complicated and tragic. We are a species that continuously abuses our planet, destroys the resources that sustain life, but whose constructed world broke apart due to the smallest possible life form. Touching presents an intimate world of contemplation, where the human touch and nature exist in symbiosis, supporting and celebrating each other.
Over time, the pandemic transitioned from shelter-in-place orders, nightly cheering of first-responders, neighbors picking up groceries for each other and trading toilet paper for disinfecting wipes, into social distancing and masking, accompanied by bitter fights and acute divisions about the protection of others vs. individual freedoms. As the months – and perhaps years- go by, we continue to learn how to navigate this new normal, with the promising outlook of herd immunity thanks to quickly-developed vaccines, against a backdrop of ever-faster spreading variants. This series continues to explore the confusing times, oscillating between hope and fear, joy and anger.
These images have been in the making for over 50 years, representing a posthumous collaboration with my father, Todd Walker, and an investigation into the materiality and impermanence of the photographic object. The film emulsion has been subjected to fluctuations in temperature and moisture now barely clinging to the base the transparent substrate. The images I include in this exhibition are some of what I have discovered in my detective work coming to terms with the loss of my father. These distressed negatives bear witness to the interaction of time, heat, and moisture as they transform into resemblances of reality. They serve as a critique of the construct that was named The American Dream and bear witness to a history reconsidered.