Abecedarian Gallery is pleased to announce the result of the 2010 Emerging/Student Artist exhibition grant.
Elizabeth M. Claffey is the artist selected from the applicants by gallery director Alicia Bailey. Her work considers physical deterioration and the relationship between medical science and life experience. Elizabeth is a photographer and book artist pursing an MFA at Texas Woman’s University.
I have great faith in photography and human nature. I believe that a photograph can tap into the most protected part of a person, where the vulnerability lies and the barriers break down to give way to understanding. I try to focus my camera on the moments “in between,” those everyday situations that, separate from life’s climactic events, make up the moments that we often overlook even while pushing through them. These are the moments that can reveal the truths of our nature, nurture, and circumstance, that allow subject, viewer, and photographer to relate.
This work is inspired by the content of a found object, as well as by my folkloric inheritance, which often describes the physical experiences of family members and ancestors. Through personal narrative, this series comments on broader issues of physical intimacy, trends in medical science that can have permanent effects, and the meaning of the body in a familial context.
Her work has been recognized by PDN Magazine, Project Basho Gallery and various other galleries and publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and The Kinsey Institute.
On display are 4 of the 5 books in the Medical History series (the 5th is part of the traveling Photo Book Works exhibition which will be on view in 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon through February). A catalog of the exhibit is available here. The series utilizes medical texts and reference books to explore family history and folklore through the juxtaposition of words, photographs, and pre-existing text.
Also included are 8 images and a 28 image artists book from the series Remember Me.
Remember Me is a project that explores the deterioration of physical existence and the changing lines, shapes, and textures of the human body. The images are made clinically, creating a physical closeness that is not sexual or familial, but rather scientific, suggesting a detached intimacy most often known by doctors. Despite the clinical approach to the image making, the subject inspires thoughts and memories that survive and even transcend physical being.
Selections from a larger series Medical Record are installed in the center of the Reading Room These works are human scale images printed on hospital gowns. Claffey’s choice to present these images in this way makes avoidance of the reality of the aging body impossible for any who wander into the Reading Room during her exhibition.
My personal favorite of the works are the series of 4 Petri Portraits, each a a photographic image with an additional splash of color presented in a Petri dish. The dishes rest on elegant white columns, lit from within letting these works glow with a diffuse but steady illumination.
Abecedarian Gallery will continue offering this grant to eligible student/emerging artists on an annual basis. To help support this project, the gallery is offering a wide range of hand-pulled artist prints created by artists throughout the United States for $15 each during the month of January. Those unable to visit the gallery are invited to peruse some of the online offerings available for purchase here.