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Narrative Photograms

Narrative Photograms is a series of 20" x 24" and 40" x 60" contact-printed photograms. Combining the shadow that the human-figure creates with pictographic elements such as pins, hair, string and paper-constructed stage settings, these narrative photograms suggest a few stories that deserve to be retold. The murals are pictographic and narrative based; the premise is that story-telling is a critical element in how we determine and define cultural behavior. The stories reflect the idea of a journey, focusing on passages, memories, and passages that define human existence.


The Pursuit of Happiness is a large, wall sized narrative photogram. The Photogram is a photographer's theater. The process involves laying objects on light-sensitive paper, exposing the paper to light, and developing the paper through normal chemical processes. The objects project shadows of white light, creating the photogram. In the history of photography, the photogram has been used experimentally to design and articulate abstract forms. Many theorists such as Moholy Nagy, Man Ray and even Lotte Jacobi have used the photogram as a means of personal expression.


Rarely, however, has the photogram been used to tell a story. These photograms are based upon the narrative format. Earlier versions used figurative elements in a form roughly similar to Eadweard Muybridge's Animal Locomotion.


The Pursuit of Happiness is composed of 120 assembled photogram panels; each panel can be read individually or collectively, as a group. The overall image is an implied, if not sequential, narrative. This work reflects the design and concept of Indonesian shadow puppets; instead of a screen, photo-paper is used. The "puppets" are paper cut-outs, and the "sets" are made of paper-board.


Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." [From Jefferson's first draft of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, written in June 1776]


The Narrative Photograms have been exhibited in Delaware, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Monterey, California; in Jacksonville, Florida and Reno, Nevada, among other locations. They have been exhibited in numerous public art forums, including CEPA's Transit Art series, a billboard for the Atlanta Arts Festival, and the lightbox series, Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York.

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