Desperately seeking a moment of catharsis, a moment when all the noise surrounding me settles and all that’s left is in front of me, when I feel I am in my place in the universe. My life feels turbulent, anxious, unreliable, and uncontrollable. Manhattan is that energy, all the time. It affects me more than I want it to as I find myself pining after my home on the west coast. So, I pursue moments of peace, ease, and bliss and save them for later. Those happen when I am surrounded by nature. Toasty sunlight, storm winds, salt water, and foggy days make me feel so much better than I usually do. Movement imparts those emotions, too, whether I am flying, stretching, running, or dancing. This rapture happens when sunlight streams in through windows and makes serendipitous frames.  It happens in hushed seconds in a packed party. It happens when I see my loved ones for the first time in months. I worship those tiny moments when all I can do is stop and stare and feel what’s around me. I am taking these with greed.


In Charlotte Cotton’s book The Photograph as Contemporary Art, one chapter contemplates the fine line between the personal photograph and the documentary photograph, citing examples like Nan Goldin. Documentary photography has evolved from an objective practice for the media to something deeply personal, like crafting a visual memoir. Susan Meiselas’ work hinges on the concept that documentary photography is abstract and rooted in one’s personal, internal conflict; she insists that a photograph records a human relationship “…in the interests of a history that was very precious to them.” My images are memoirs and visual records of times I feel beyond Manhattan, connected to an emotion that draws me home. In Joan Didion’s essay On Keeping a Notebook, she settles on why journal-keepers steal and fix these scraps of memory, like I do in my photographs- “Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point”.


Every photograph is a meticulously constructed object. Diptychs connecting gaps of seconds, days, and months are assembled by hand with Exacto knives and glue. Symbols from home that I have documented are printed, cut out, and collaged into new photographs. Symbols like fox glove flowers that grow on all the hills in my forested neighborhood; they announce summer- waking up to the sunrise dripping through my blinds, bare feet to hot pavement, a kiddie pool that feels like luxury. Details are scrawled as captions on select photographs. The ocean foam at my feet is glued to a photo of Aislinn on the shore and a poppy I picked with Meg over the summer is placed on a portrait taken when she visited me in New York. Editing these prints by hand, tactilely, allows me to sew together old memories with my current headspace- segues from now to later, here to there. I create an image based on my feeling and recollection. I am pasting a whole new world into existence. These photographs function in the radial way of memory thanks to the separate moments coming together on the same flat plane. I rely on the fuzziness of memory to reconstruct a space, drawing from different locations, times, sights, experiences. I am tracing a current of emotion throughout my life.



A best friend from home found her dad’s old journal of this summer. He and his college friends all took turns writing entries while they were on a road trip. One of them talks about driving with the windows down, Fleetwood Mac playing, and a joint being passed around. And while it’s hilarious to think about Jeff Johnson getting stoned with his friends, I was mostly charmed by the idea of a collaborative group journal. I have about five journals going right now, all with vaguely different purposes. They all end up being little time capsules with writing, pictures, doodles, and scraps of paper taped in. Because I got to go home for Thanksgiving this year, I used my time to document home- my family, friends, belongings, places, experiences- and compile it in a multimedia journal. Fall in Seattle is precious to me. It floods my memory with birthday parties, family gatherings, cold winds, bright grey skies, and contentment. I asked my friends to collaborate a little by giving me media to include.


I used the photos I took, old photos of mine, film scans, objects, written notes, photos my friends have taken, and other meaningful scraps I dragged up. These media explore the physical and temporal distance between my life before leaving home and after coming back. When I go back, do my feelings change, or is there an undercurrent of old emotion? How did my home make me this person? What do I remember and why? I taped in everything that exuded a gut feeling of home. Family photos gathered from closets build up pages about my life as a child. My old and new photos, taken as a teenager and a nascent twenty-year-old, were printed on Epson luster paper I used in high school as well as thin Epson matte paper I bought at Value Village years ago. Everything is a piece of my life before college.