Too Tired Week: Heather Evans Smith: Blue
Too Tired Project is a nonprofit arts organization advancing mental health advocacy through photography. They work to develop and expand the ways photography can positively impact mental health—online, in person, and in print. Current initiatives include rotating exhibitions, a traveling slideshow series, a photobook publishing imprint, and social engagement via their instagram. This week’s features are curated by our Executive Director, Kelly Burgess, and spotlights artists who are making work exploring issues related to mental health.
In Blue, Heather Evans Smith’s photographs use symbolism – both in the use of the color blue and within the subjects of the photos themselves – to create scenes representative of her experiences with loss and depression. The project shows remnants of a domestic life that has been touched with loss: shattered dishes, vintage photographs, still lives encased in gilded frames. For me, the work as a whole functions as a self portrait, a performative and what feels like a distinctly feminine exploration of life with depression.
Heather Evans Smith is a photo-based artist whose work reflects her southern roots, motherhood, womanhood and a whimsical imagination she relied on as an only child in a rural town. Her photographic imagery explores the ideas of memory, loss and family in conceptual settings. Smith’s work has been exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, England, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, NC and Leica Galerie Milano in Milan, Italy. She is a Critical Mass 2014, 2018 and 2021 Top 50 recipient as well as a 2022 Silver List artist. Her first monograph, Seen Not Heard, was published by Flash Powder Projects in 2016 followed by her self-published monograph, Alterations, in 2020. She resides with her family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Some say my dad’s death was the spark that ignited my depression, but this feeling has been brewing for a while. I started to notice a sadness creep in a few years into my 40s. I searched “depression in women” and stumbled across articles stating women are the most depressed at age 44. I was at that very moment 44.
Loss during this time in a woman’s life can weigh heavily. Children are getting older and need the comfort of a parent less; the health of one’s own parent(s) is starting to fail, and hormonal shifts begin.
Using the color blue, which for hundreds of years has been associated with melancholy and sadness-these images evoke this period in my life and how it affects those around me. A mid-point, as I am stripping down, taking stock, and finding a new place amongst the loss. -Heather Evans Smith
A solo exhibit of Blue will be premiering at Cassilhaus in Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina from May 22- August 21 2022. Please visit www.cassilhaus.com for more information.
Kelly Burgess (she/her) is a project-based conceptual photographer, curator, publisher, and arts administrator that lives and works in rural Vermont. Emotional narrative is the thematic thread running through her work, with much of her own photography and writing coming directly from personal experiences.
Kelly is a regular editorial contributor to The New York Times. Her work has also been published in The Wall Street Journal, Kodak’s Kodachrome Magazine, GROW Magazine, PDNEdu, and Art New England Magazine – where she was featured as one of their 30 Photographers Under 30. Her sold-out book/project, Sing Me Back Home, has been exhibited internationally, more recently at the Arctic Arts Festival in Norway, MassArt Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
In addition to her personal work, she has over a decade of experience in arts administration. In 2020 Kelly joined the Too Tired Project (tootiredproject.com), a nonprofit arts organization advancing mental health advocacy through photography, as their Executive Director. With TTP, she launched Too Tired Press, where she works as the Publisher. Her mission for Too Tired Press is to focus on creating transparent, equitable, and affordable relationships between artists and the publishing industry. www.kelly-burgess.
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