The UAA Student Union Gallery presents 427, a series of black and white photographs by UAA BFA graduate Liz Shine, exploring the tangible and intangible elements of memory, family, loss, physical space, and time. 427 documents memories of House #427 and displays the life of Liz’s family through portraits of its home.
Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 3, 5-7pm
Show runs from August 3 to August 18
Gallery Hours (Summer 2011):
Mon – Thu: 11:00am – 5:30pm
Fri: 11:00am – 4:00pm
What follows is the artist’s statement from the project.
The number 427 was the house number where my grandparents lived in Chicago Heights Illinois. It’s the same house my Father and his two sisters grew up in. Even as the years went by, family aged, the neighborhood changed and I grew up, the house remained the same. It was something familiar and tangible that represented childhood memories unchanged. The aesthetic of it has always intrigued me. As a child I was fascinated by all the neat things to look at, and as an adult I marveled at how well it captured my Grandparents’ lives. Well traveled, with deep roots in their faith and community, their house was a testament to how they lived. Each and every item in their house had meaning and memory attached to it.
A few years ago my Grandmother’s memory started to fade. On my visit to Illinois in 2008 she spoke with me about it. I know it was frustrating for her. It made me think about my own memories and how amazing they are. They are a record of my life and I am the keeper. There is only one copy, there will never be another. I felt compelled to document the house and make external copies of my memories. It’s strange to think that I felt as if a photograph could copy a memory. But what I have come to realize over time is that no tangible human creation could ever copy a memory. A photograph is something of it’s own. It’s a documentation of a specific point in time and a specific space. The glorious thing about a familiar photograph is the ability it has to trigger a memory.
I can remember lying on a cot in the spare room when I was no more than 7. It was the middle of the night and my parents had gone out for the evening. My Grandmother was busy in the other room and I should have been asleep. I remember feeling something small crawling up my leg. I sat straight up, whipped the covers off, and in the light streaming from the hallway I found an ant crawling up my leg. I yelled “Grandma! Grandma!” and she came running. I can remember her sitting there with me in the middle of the night. I felt embarrassed for being afraid of something so small but knowing she was there made everything better. How do you capture a memory like that in a photograph? You can’t. It exists inside my mind, but every time I walked into that room for years I would remember that it. There is a photograph in this show that I took in that room. It is a picture of lace curtains viewed from a bed. I see it and I am instantly transported to that room.
My Grandmother passed away in the winter of 2010. My Grandfather ultimately decided to sell the house in Illinois. It was surreal knowing that the house would be sold and that I would no longer be able to return. I would never again be able to sit at the table and look at the birds that gathered outside the window, or watch my Grandmother busily cooking in the kitchen, or go out to my Grandfather’s shop and ogle all the amazing odds and ends it contained.
My intent is that the work I present in this show serves as a sort of time capsule. It captures fleeting moments from my own memory. Whether you relate to the pieces on a personal level or not my goal is to present a window in to the past and portray the life of my family in a way no bodily portrait could do.
I dedicate this body of work to both of my Grandparents and especially to the memory of my Grandmother.