On the fourth of July, utterly sick of working on images of insects, I pulled out a badly damaged photograph from the early 1900s. It was of my great, great Aunt Lulu, who came to Colorado around 1908. I started digitally repairing the photograph. Once I was finished, I found another photograph to repair. And I did this, quite manically, for a week. There was something so soothing about being able to fix the damage that time and neglect had done to the images. With the current state of the world, I needed that act of repair and restoration.
While I repaired these images, I began to wonder what the people would think of Denver today. Lulu's photo albums documented just about everything around Evergreen and Denver from 1910-1914, and then abruptly stopped. How did she deal with the Spanish Flu? How did her life change after the great depression? What would Lulu do if she could see Denver today? Can she see Denver today?
So, I started making scenes where all these people from the past exist in the present.
I'm using my family photographs, as well as images I've purchased from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection and various antique stores around the city. These are combined with photographs that I've taken around the state, with an emphasis on some of the unrest and change we're seeing right now.
The blue image included above uses a photograph from the Denver Public Library of Native American Ute, Dick Charlie. I combined his portrait with the toppled civil war statue from the State Capital, and three separate landscapes all taken at Rocky Mountain National Arsenal. The graffiti on the statue that says "Native Lands" immediately brought the photograph of Dick Charlie to mind. As you can see in the original, he is accompanied by another man, John Taylor. Taylor was a freed slave who fought in the civil war, and later married a Ute Indian. I desperately wanted to include him in the composited photo, but as might be able to see in the original, he is slightly out of focus, and just would not work in the image....
The brown image is comprised of several photographs. The man is from my own family photos, although I have no indication of who he is, or what year the photo was taken. The smoke from the background is from the Decker Fire that burned outside of Salida last year, which I combined with several other landscapes from Rocky Mountain Arsenal. And the mans head? Many thanks to my boyfriend, who allowed me wrap his head up in a pillowcase and photograph him. Bonus points if you get the art history reference made in this image!
I'm printing these images using an archaic process, where I hand coat chemistry onto paper, expose the image, then bleach and tone it to a lovely sepia. The historic process adds to the ambiguity of time and place. I have not quite dialed down the printing, and I'll be posting additional photos once I do, but here's a glimpse into the start of the series.