LOOKING FOR THE COOLIDGES
Two years ago, Seattle artist Amy Pleasant inherited the family photograph album. The result was a series of paintings exploring the idea of generational transition. This interest moved beyond her own family as she began to collect the discarded vintage photos at thrift stores; leading to the question; "What becomes of us when there is no one left to remember. The exhibition "Lost and Found" offers hope that the remains of a life lived lies just beneath the surface of the glossy black and white photos. Memory transforms from generation to generation woven ever so subtly into the tapestry of the family, no longer standing on its own but part of the whole.
Shortly after the completion of that series a stranger who knew of her work approached the artist offering her a box of over 200 photos which she inherited from her great aunt after her passing. She did not recognize anyone in the photos and wanted to pass them on. After hours spent sorting and identifying the repeated family members the Ms. Pleasant realized that this collection of photos contained the artifacts of one couple's lifetime together. From notes on the backs of the photos, pharmacy receipts and a bit of digging on the internet the family has been identified as the Coolidge family of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. These photos span a time period from the mid 1930's to the 1970's; from the couple's childhood through the birth of their first grandchild when the collection inexplicably ends.
The artist noticed that whoever took these photos included the moments before and after the posed portrait. Before digital photography all pictures were developed and the "less than perfect" shot could not be deleted. This box held a continuous intimate visual record of those small, unscripted moments of one family's life; their journey played out in front of the camera. The artist's ornamentation and embellishment of the original photo visually hints at "the hero's journey" lived in the unremarkable details of daily life. Two large paintings depicting the Coolidge's wedding day and their 50th anniversary serve as the "metaphoric bookends" between which the less spectacular, but perhaps the more significant moments of life are lived. As a culmination for this project the artist continues to research the family's roots in hopes of returning this collection to the descendants; to create meaning once again for these dusty old photos, giving hope to our own desire to be remembered in some form or fashion.
Amy Pleasant is a Seattle artist whose work explores memory and generational transition.
2012 Featured Artist: Woman's Caucus for Art (NY, NY)
more images at: amypleasantseattle.com
GEORGETOWN ART AND GARDEN WALK
Plein Air Painting at the Georgetown Art and Garden Walk
Sunday, July 8th