The White Family series, 20"X24", Chromogenic prints, 2001
Fifty years after the end of World War II, the imagery of Father Knows Best families and Leave it to Beaver homes are central to the visual education of the baby boom generation. Though seeped in pleasant nostalgia, the imagery of the 1950s is, of course, loaded with cultural expectations. Domestic life is the genesis of my photographic work that examines 1950s Middle America and its legacy, often using photograms, pinhole imagery, and alternative photo processes. The White Family series is concerned with many of these issues, but in a more sequentially narrative fashion. Using a large format camera to draw a narrow line of focus in the picture, I aim to invoke a sense of the limited range of options that are available to people based on gender, race, and socio-economic class.
Toys have been integral to my work for the last five years. It has been suggested that the life stage we call childhood is a construct of industrial age nostalgia. The playthings we manufacture for children may actually reflect this. Until the early 19th Century, dolls represented adult figures only. And although baby dolls and child figures have been popular for many years, the new action figures seem to emphasize an expanded range of ideas about the human experience. Do these toys reflect changes in our ideas for ourselves? Or can they also perpetuate and influence ideas?