The 1950’s are often portrayed to be the ‘perfect decade’ of American history, where everything was ‘right’ and America was at its best. Flush from victory in World War II, proud of being the good guys, America was booming with growth and optimism, but there was often a subtext behind the smiles in photographs of that time period. Susan White’s exhibit “Picture Perfect” reflects the image of this era with works of oversized graphite drawings of black and white photographs of a ‘picture perfect’ 1950’s family. The works reference the unspoken dynamics between the family members and the effects of those dynamics on the wife and children of the family. Discrimination was sanctioned by cultural norms, children were to be seen and not heard, and wives to be obedient. What happened in families behind closed doors was considered nobody’s business, and not to be discussed. Each time a photograph is taken, either the photographer or the subject is choosing to memorialize that particular moment. The photographer has an agenda and subjects choose to participate. For the artist, the act of making “portraits” of these photos, of memorializing them by increasing the scale and investing so many hours in the process of drawing, is a statement as well. It begs the viewer to question the intention of both the photographer and artist, as well as that of the subjects depicted.
“The theme that runs through all my work, the idea which intrigues me most, is the passage of time and the resultant effects on people and places. The graphite drawing series show the changes over time in the dynamics of a family, for the positive.” Susan White
Exhibition runs 11/11/12 – 12/20/12
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