Susan Goldstein: Bending Time
Susan Goldstein has a strong connection to the West. She has numerous bodies of work that reflect the myths and realities of Western landscapes, so it was not surprising that we met at the Month of Photography Denver Portfolio Reviews. But the project she shared was not of physical landscapes, more so, landscapes of memory and the mind. For her series, Bending Time, Susan uses a variety of ephemera–books, negatives, photographs, old postcards, etc.–to create layered and detailed collages that speak to history, whimsy, and an emotional connection between the past and the present.
Susan Goldstein was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and received a BA from the University of Colorado. She worked for Denver’s weekly newspaper Westword as the staff photographer and then transitioned to a fine art focus. Goldstein is a multifaceted artist who, in addition to creating many photographic and photo based bodies of work, has created sculpture from antique office supplies, addressed a variety of political issues using collage and installation, and generally explored mixing materials to make new imagery. Bending Time, her most recent collage work, unites Goldstein’s love of collecting, photography, and collage.
Goldstein’s photographic work is in numerous collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, Joaquim Paiva Collection, Rio De Janiero, Brazil, Encuentros Abiertos, Festival de Luz, Buenos Aires, Argentina , and the Crawford Hotel, Union Station, Denver, CO. Her work has been exhibited extensively including at the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography’s Stoneham Gallery. Colorado Photographic Art Center and Colorado College’s Idea Space.
A solo exhibition of the antique photo collages from Bending Time will be exhibited at The Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft Collins, CO in 2018.
I occupy myself on road trips making traditional photographs, both digital and film based, while stopping along the way to explore antique malls, flea markets and garage sales. The convergence of my passion for exploring the world and collecting old, discarded, often damaged objects, ephemera and antique photographs led to creating these collages.
My emotional connection to this work is totally different from other projects. When looking at the photographs, I know that my gaze is falling on the subjects in the same way the photographer saw them many years ago. When I hold a portrait I suspect I am holding a photographic print the subject held and studied.
A fingerprint may be embedded in an old negative and occasionally I can see where a photographer retouched an image to enhance details, showing a presence that exists even in absence. This is a reoccurring theme in much of my work. A print may have the signature of the photographer or the name of the subject, but most of these images are of anonymous people and places made by unidentified photographers. Some of the materials I use have survived since the late 1800s.
By combining parts of books, negatives, photographs, antique printed material, feathers, watch parts, children’s drawings, paper dolls, old postcards and anything that exists in my odd collections, I am able to create new images. These collages are painstakingly difficult to make. Finding the elements that will work together and that are the proper scale is an endless challenge. The result is a tiny, often textured collage with subtle depth that is difficult to recognize when viewed on a computer screen.
The only requirement I have imposed for these collages is size and that each piece includes some element that is a photograph, negative, or other material related to making an image using a camera. Currently there are 75 collages in Bending Time.
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