Emma Dixon is an artist that I met during the Undergraduate Photography Now portfolio walk, an event organized to bolster young artists and connect them to the arts community in the Boston area. It has been amazing to get to know Emma and see her work progress; work that I find both mature and raw in its depth as a blend of personal story telling and a harsh critique of our social media culture. Hard to comprehend at first, Dixon uses crude artistry and manipulation of her own imagery, screen grabs and fast clipped video editing, weaving an unflinching look at how interconnectivity does not always lead to fulfilling and healthy relationships.
Dixon stabs at ideas of social media and voyeurism throughout her work, stemming from the abrupt connection to her biological father through Facebook, and their consequent communication (or lack thereof). The dynamic is fraught with the idea of an imagined family history and a future that Dixon has revealed probably will not happen. “He’s never wanted to meet, though we’ve shared [the family history], very personal stories and even I’ve sent gifts to my sister. He has literally been in Boston [as seen on Facebook] and not contacted me, so I believe our proximity will remain what it is.”
Dixon has explored this relationship with her collage work, and an eventual book that interweaves the family history her birth father sent her and her own work from “Elusive Figures.” Her video work I find to be a raw addendum to this personal narrative- with a glimpse of how culturally we have aired more and more of our intimate lives and profound moments for the benefit of complete strangers; or those with ever complicated and distant bloodlines.
Emma Dixon is an emerging media based artist working through photography, video, and installation. She grew up in Minnesota and is currently located in Brighton, MA. Her work addresses the blurring lines between personal and private on social media and its affect on family, relationships, and communication.
She received her BFA in photography from Lesley University College of Art and Design. She has been an intern at the Photographic Resource Center and her work has been shown at Laconia Gallery, the Cambridge Art Association, and the Photographic Resource Center.
When my birth father added me on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by a flood of videos, photographs, and posts about his life with his other daughter. Through digital conversations between us, re-creating my half sister’s photographs, using images from my own childhood, and manipulating images found on Facebook, I reconstruct my past to create an imaginary childhood where my half sister and I become the same person.
It wasn’t until he sent me a handwritten letter in a book about our family history that I actually felt connected to him. My name in his handwriting is far more valuable than the cheery Facebook page documenting his life or the stilted online messages we sent each other.
I have unlimited access to my birth father through social media, but no physical relationship with him. He is still an elusive figure in my imagination. By creating letters he never wrote me in his handwriting, I am rewriting the history of our relationship and imagining a potential future.
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Emma Dixon: The States Project: MassachusettsApril 26th, 2017
Steve Locke: The States Project: MassachusettsApril 25th, 2017
Greer Muldowney: The States Project: MassachusettsApril 24th, 2017