Liz Steketee: Reconstructing The Portrait
Photographic artist Liz Steketee has recently opened a two-person exhibition, Reconstructing The Portrait: K.K. DePaul and Liz Steketee, at the Schneider Gallery in Chicago, running through July 30. Liz has had a long practice of working with vernacular photographs, altering their intention and truth. Her newest work takes the photograph off the wall and brings it into the realm of mixed media, allowing the photograph to “become an object that takes up space and has its own experiences in the world.” Many of her pieces are sewn and Liz considers sewing “drawing with thread” where the constructions often have unexpected results.
“At the heart of my work is an examination of what it means to be part of a family, to negotiate the turbulent waters of human interaction. I am interested in capturing in-between moments in life, sideways looks, and mundane daily rituals that make life happen. I often alter, remove, merge, and or recompose photographic elements. This composite process allows me to represent a moment, a memory, or life’s reality as I see it, as a photographic “truth” and calls into question our history through memory and as photographic document. I see life as a combination of independent moments that converge to leave us with a unique experience. Memories converge with present moments to form our reality. How these memories are represented is what interests me most.”
Liz lives in the San Francisco with her husband and two children where she maintains her own art practice. Liz is a member of the photo faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute where she specializes in digital imaging, compositing, and the handmade book. In 2005, Liz completed her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. At SFAI, Liz received the prestigious John Collier Award of Excellence for her Master’s thesis project, which was based on the turbulent circumstances surrounding the birth of Liz’s first child, Emma. After completing her graduate studies, Liz dedicated her work to art practice and teaching. Liz’s personal work focuses the notions of photography and its role in family life, memory, and our sense of self. Her work ventures into the realms of mixed media, book arts, and photography, often combining these areas as one.
For over a decade, I have altered, chopped, merged, and recomposed my photographs. By doing this, I create work that deals with the notions of truth in photography and its impact on identity.I use my family images and those from my family’s past albums as material for the work. The resulting imagery tells a “new truth” with reimagined memories, situations, and experiences.
SEWN expands this notion by incorporating mixed media elements to expand the work to a new realm, to create object that comes off the wall and has its own experiences. I cut out, obliterate, and cover up elements of an image to draw attention to what is missing, what may have changed, or what needs to be considered. Pieces are sewn together and dyed to congeal the elements and ideas together. Thread binds the content. Dye binds the colors. Past and present collide.
Memories are colored by the past, guided by the images burned in our brains. True feelings emerge and break through the expected parameters of vernacular imagery. The pieces in this work are purposefully raw and unrefined, recalling the impulsive and rough nature of childhood.
This process is intended to jar the viewer and call into question our history through memory and as photographic document.
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