Astrid Reischwitz: Stories from the Kitchen Table
Astrid Reischwitz brought a well-crafted and conceptualized project on family, tradition, and memory to Photolucida. She also bought a roster of achievements having garnered a top 50 award in Critical Mass, a finalist in the 2017 Lensculture Awards, a current solo show at the Providence Center for Photographic Arts in Providence RI running through June 10th, and a ShowCase Award in PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE 10, juried by Hannah Frieser, at the The Center for Fine Arts Photography in Fort Collins CO in October 2017. Stories from the Kitchen Table is a constructed tableaux of personal ephemera, family photographs, new capture, still lifes of objects that have history and meaning, all combining to tell personal, yet universal stories.
Astrid Reischwitz is a Boston based photographer whose work explores aspects of storytelling from a personal perspective. Her projects include intimate views of private spaces and reflections on her own history and values. Using material culture of family life, old photographs and visual storytelling elements, she builds a visual world of memory and identity, place and home. Her work Stories from the Kitchen Table was featured at 555 Gallery, Boston MA, and Soho Photo Gallery, New York. The Bedroom Project was featured at Danforth Art Museum and Cambridge Art Association (CAA). Solo exhibitions of Street Art include: the Griffin Museum of Photography, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University (NEO), Firehouse Center for the Arts Newburyport, Munroe Center for the Arts Lexington, and Boston Public Library. Expectations, an earlier black and white series focusing on the shapes of pregnant women, was exhibited at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord MA.
Reischwitz’s photographs have appeared in juried group exhibitions at the Photographic Resource Center (PRC), Boston, Exposure 2016; The Danforth Museum of Art, Off the Wall and New England Photography Biennial; CAA National Prize Show, Red, Blue (Best in Show), and Platinum (Best in Show); Photo Place Gallery VT (Jurors’ Choice Award); Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester MA; Gallery Seven, Maynard MA; Bedford (MA) Free Public Library; Brush Gallery Lowell MA; Concord Art Association (Prize for Best Photography), Frances N. Roddy Open Competition (Third Prize 2014, Second Prize 2016); Houston Center for Photography; Vermont Center for Photography; Catamount Arts, St. Johnsbury VT; The Curated Fridge, Boston MA; Umpqua Valley Arts Association, Roseburg OR (First Place); Massachusetts Convention Center with Photographic Resource Center Boston; and DeCordova Museum School Gallery, Lincoln MA. She received a Silver Medal Award in the San Francisco International Photography Exhibition and was selected as one of Top 100 for Review Santa Fe Photo Festival. She is a Photolucida Critical Mass photographer (Top 50, 2016; Top 200, 2015) and winner of the 2016 International Portfolio Competition, Soho Photo Gallery, New York, as well as the Winner of Portfolio ShowCase 10 at The Center for Fine Arts Photography, Fort Collins CO. Reischwitz was selected as a Finalist for the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2017.
Her photographs have been published in the Boston Globe, the LexingtonMinuteman, the Newburyport Current, the Bedford Minuteman, Armenian Weekly, and other publications. Her work was also published online on LensCulture and appeared on Lenscratch, What Will You Remember, and 3200K online blogs, as well as Cambridge Art Association blog and Echoes of Pop in the New Millennia blogspot. Her portfolio Stories from the Kitchen Table is featured on Syracuse University’s Family.Life. Project webpage.Reischwitz curates art exhibitions at the Bedford MA Free Public Library, most recently the group show Portraits, as well as featured exhibitions including Dick Simon (kNOw T-H-E-M), Caleb Cole (Other People’s Clothes), and Nick Johnson/Sus Iserbyt (Solitude). She is a juried member of the Cambridge Art Association.
A graduate of the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, with a PhD in chemistry, Reischwitz began her study of photography at the International Center of Photography in New York soon after moving to the United States. After relocating to the Boston area she continued her studies at the New England School of Photography, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, DeCordova Museum School, and Photography Atelier at Lesley University and Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester MA. She also holds a certificate in Arts Administration from New York University.
Stories from the Kitchen Table
I created “Stories from the Kitchen Table” to preserve and honor a fading way of life in my childhood home, a continent away. Going home means travelling the long distance back to a small village in northern Germany and my family’s old farmhouse, a house that seems untouched by modern time, and, one day soon, will be left behind. The hardship of farming and events during World War II cast a prickly shadow over family members that can still be felt today. Telling these tales gives me a chance for reflection and transformation. Memories and emotions intertwine into new stories.
When I visit, I absorb the ingredients of home: the flavors of dishes that are so familiar, and the same furnishings, photographs, knick-knacks, and worn kitchen tools that have been there since well before I was born. Most of all, the very essence of home for me is gathering around the kitchen table to sit down for a meal with family and friends and share stories old and new. Connecting past and present, my composites include old family photos combined with images reflecting how I perceive my heritage today. I use flowers and fragmented images of fabric: these dish towels, tablecloths, napkins, and decorative wall hangings (dating back to 1799) were passed down from generation to generation – a salute to the women who lived and worked under the roof of this old house. Pieces of the traditional costume, buried for decades in an old farmer’s trunk, add a layer of local history to my images.
My grandmother was a great influence. She was the overseer and guide of a local farmhouse museum across the street; she was the keeper of local history and the keeper of family stories and tales that often were shared among women in “spin clubs.” In past times, “spin clubs” met with the purpose of spinning wool, doing needlework, and stitching tablecloths and wall hangings. These close-knit groups of women stayed together until death. Today, these clubs barely exist. “Stories from the Kitchen Table” transforms this tradition of storytelling into a visual journey.
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