The imagery of my photographs contains the metaphor of memory and myth. Using the contemporary framework of my personal history I explore personal loss, religious and cultural identities linked with the inescapable essence of mortality. Nostalgia for what once was, plays heavily throughout the threads of my imagery.
Photography has a history of being linked to the recording of memory and therefore, also loss. The photographic image is a visual memory both real and fabricated in its design. It is capable of
expressing the duality of the moment: life and death, dark and light, loss and fulfillment. I use symbolism to create a visual metaphor rich in this duality. Using both traditional and cultural images of symbolism to further the narrative creates imagery that speaks of the human experience. The use of this symbolism is a direct reference to the 17th century Vanitas paintings and early training in Catholicism as a child. Subjects include self-portraits, my own children, antique toys and dolls, and vintage photographs. The use of bones in some of my work is a valid reminder of my Hispanic roots. Other cultural references are also used, such as Meso-American imagery and images of war from the 1910 – 1920 Mexican Revolution during the reign of my Great-Great Uncle, Pancho Villa of Mexico.
Beauty is a current metaphor I am working with, in film, wet plate collodion, experimental photography, and digital trends. Working in sepia tones brings the air of nostalgia to the forefront. This restricted palette, floods the awareness with memory and loss. In times of uncertainty, I work with the familiar beauty of nostalgia to quiet the noise of the world, finding peace in tone and symbolism of the past.
Suzanne Gonsalez-Smith 2021
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