Ashly Stohl: Days & Years
I remember a day long ago, when I was cleaning out my purse, removing such items as a rotten banana, a half eaten protein bar, wads of kleenex and a few other sticky and seen-better-days items, plus numerous happy meal toys, all co-mingled with my adult possessions set to the the soundtrack of my son, in full tantrum mode confined to his room, hurling boxes of Lego parts across the room and my daughter singing to herself as she dressed her American Girl doll, Kirsten. Unfortunately, I do not have visual evidence of the above moments, but they are still seared into my memory.
Making photographs about being a parent was once considered mundane and not wall worthy. Personally, I have have found the tableau of every day life, the small operatic performances and travails of co-existing and growing up to be immensely fascinating. Photographer and Peanut Press Books founder, Ashly Stohl, had been focusing her lens on her family for years, with an eye towards the poignant humor of living under the roof with three children in various stages of becoming. Her wonderful photographs are now a book, Days & Years, published by Peanut Press Books and the work is currently on exhibition at the Leica Gallery in New York until the end of June.
In addition, Ashly has created a new istagram account–The Days and Years Project to act as a platform to promote photographers who photograph their own children and immediate family.
Ashly Stohl is a photographer based in Los Angeles and New York, and co-founder and Publisher of Peanut Press, an independent photobook publisher. Ashly was born and raised in Los Angeles. After earning a BS in chemistry from UCSB, she returned to L.A. and put her science education to use, creating award-winning educational websites for NASA’s Mars Program Office.
Her acclaimed series, Charth Vader tells the story of her visually impaired son. The book Charth Vader, published in 2014, went viral, selling out in two weeks. The book was featured in over 50 articles and an appeared on ABC TV News. She continues to photograph her family, and most intimate relationships with her characteristic dark humor.
As a co-founder of Peanut Press, she uses her experience in design and book publishing to partner with other photographers in making high quality photo books. She has lectured and presented nationally at Columbia University, SPE National and The Penumbra Foundation to name a few. Her photographs are in the collections of Yale University, Emory University, Washington University in St Louis as well as other major institutions.
Days & Years
In photography, they say that all portraits are really self portraits. So what are portraits of your kids? They are portraits of a parent. My upcoming book will have pictures of my kids, and if you’ll look closely you’ll also see me in there – my worries and fears, my attempts to correct the problems of my own childhood, my heart and my struggles.
Motherhood isn’t talked about enough in public places. Oh they say it’s the most important job in the world, but it isn’t treated that way, is it? People like it when you talk about the wonderful aspects, like hugs and fireflies in a jar, and of course that stuff makes everyone feel good. Motherhood is wonderful, but it’s also hard, and women only talk about the hard parts conspiratorially over a glass of wine, or late at night on the internet in private groups and instant messages. I want to talk about it in public because I’m tired, and when I’m tired the filter between my brain and my mouth (or keyboard) completely breaks down. Can we just talk about what it’s really like, like out in public? Sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. Actually not sorry.
In parenting circles, people often say, “the days are long and the years are short,” and for me nothing has ever felt so true. When Sara was a colicky newborn, I didn’t think I could survive a single day, and now she’s seventeen and going to college. Where did it go, all that time when the clock moved so slowly? Well some of it is in these pictures – the good, the bad and the ugly. The days I was my best, and the days i was not, and the same for my kids. It’s all there in our memories and in these pictures, The Days & Years.
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