Tara Wray: Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long
Tara Wray is a photographer, writer, bookmaker, filmmaker, and editor, proving that one can live in rural Vermont and be very much engaged in the world. Tara also has a collaborative project, Some Days Just Are, where two photographers capture a twelve hour day in parallel time. Her personal work explores the terrain of place and animals; her photographs often have a particular sense of melancholy that comes when something is truly seen: a lonely dog, objects that hold the vestiges of time, or places that have seen better days. Her personal project created in Kansas, Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long, is a diaristic capture of her grandmother, GG, at the end of her life. As Tara states, “This work explores themes of attachment and mortality, as GG, in the declining years of her life, and me, a new parent, confront our shared ambivalence about the meaning of family”. Tara has created a handmade artist’s book of this project under the same title, that can be purchased here.
Tara Wray was born in Kansas and now lives and works in rural Vermont. A graduate of NYU, she is the director of the documentary films Manhattan, Kansas (SXSW 2006 Audience Award), about family relationships and mental illness, and Cartoon College (Vancouver Film Festival, 2012), about the weird and wonderful world of indie cartoonists. She curates interviews with photographers at Vice, Huffington Post, and BUST Magazine, where she focuses on highlighting women in photography. In addition, she runs the collaborative photo project “Some Days Just Are” and is photo editor for the literary journal Hobart. Freelance editorial clients include Bloomberg Businessweek and The Valley News. Wray’s self-published photobooks include Each One Wonderful, (2013) about New York City dogs, and Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long, (2014) a follow up to her film Manhattan, Kansas. Her most recent photobook Too Tired for Sunshine will be released in 2018.
Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long (2014) is a photobook follow-up to my autobiographical documentary Manhattan, Kansas, about my relationship with my mentally ill mother. The book documents my return to Kansas after a long absence to visit my grandmother, a character from the film. I assumed that these photographs would be the last I would take of her, which proved to be true. She passed away in March of 2017. The book is a portrait of love, mortality, and the ambivalence of family ties.
About making Come Again When You Can’t Stay So Long: I knew from the start I wanted to make a book that was also a handmade object. To that end, the signatures were printed unbound, and then chain link stitched to join together with the endpapers. The covers were letterpressed on a Vandercook SP20 under the guidance of Sarah Smith at the Book Arts Workshop at Dartmouth–an open studio that teaches letterpress and relief printing techniques. Hundred year old wooden type was used for the title. I had a halftone cut made from a digital image so I could add a picture to the inside back part of the cover, a secret element you have to hunt a little to find. The bookmark with the blurb is also letterpressed–it took me two weeks. – Tara Wray
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