Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

I wanted people to feel they could turn on the faucets

I've always felt that art should contain an element of surprise. What first surprises people about my photography is that it's about homey, everyday objects. Then they may start pointing out the details: ''Look at that wallpaper.'' Or: ''I love the way that cord goes across the wall.''

I didn't create these images. Their homeyness or their novelty called out to my insides. My decision is how to compose: just how much gets put in, how much left out, and where it happens. Most of my work is very straightforward, parallel to the camera. Many of the photographs now happen in the kitchen or the bathroom.

About these ads

When I lived in Iowa, many of the subjects were rural. The Iowa Arts Council has a strong commitment to bringing art to the community, especially to areas that don't have immediate museum access. At an exhibition that I learned about through the council, I showed a series of farm details. One visitor expressed exactly what I hope for: ''You make us take a second look at the things around us.'' I continued to seek beauty in ordinary objects in ''Photographs: The Better to See With,'' an exhibition that toured Iowa classrooms, libraries, and public places for four years.

More recently, as a free-lancer in Boston, I've been photographing objects ''lifesize.'' It started with a photo titled ''My Bathroom Sink.'' I wanted people to feel that they could turn on the faucets. It's exhibited at sink height. You might find an actual bathroom rug on the floor in front of the photograph.

I've also exhibited life-size photos in a series on bathroom medicine chests. What surprises might lurk in those chests? What revelation of character? Such questions came up among friends at a party. And so the series began. I was surprised by the number of toothbrushes a single person might keep, by a child's gun and holster toothbrush, by who uses baking soda or makeup, by the presence of leaves, crayons, the abundance or lack of medicines, and the complexity or simplicity and the variety of the chests themselves and their environs.

Another piece, four by six feet, was taken in my living room and hangs on the same wall that appears in the photograph. The chairs which are in the picture are now positioned in front of it. Since this work needs to be in my home with my chairs, I don't want to sell it. In common things that round us lie Some random truths he can impart,-- The harvest of a quiet eye. . . William Wordsworth You will have written exceptionally well if, by skillful arrangement of your words, you have made an ordinary one seem original. Horace

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.