Reconstituting the Vanished: Gender, Memory, and Placemaking in the Delta.
“In memory, persons and places coalesce, forming a geography of the remembered.”
“The subject of memory has been an important theme in my art making. In it’s process, collage becomes a kind of remembering. It is a reinvention of a history or myth embedded in the photographs. I have an attraction for objects which evoke the past. I use symbols that move between and into realms that are personal, cultural, and universal. Most recently I have been delving into the signs and ethos of the southern historical culture.”
Lynda Frese‘s work emphasizes history, memory, legend, and place. She blends cultural mythologies; the omnipresence of Roman Catholicism and religious superstition. She introduces a world in which past and future are filtered through the present. Frese creates imagined scenes – culled from information about stories – gathered through research and artistic invention. “Just as postmodernism has challenged the truth status of history, digitalization has challenged the truth status of photography. Memory is not about static truth.” Working in the digital mode, she assembles collected photographic images – those she makes with her camera, found historical archives, chance and computer scans, to create montages.
Reconstituting the Vanished, an ongoing collaborative work by Lynda Frese with historian Barbara Allen, creatively ‘re-visions’ the lives of four Southern female leaders and their contributions in the shaping of ‘place’ in Louisiana. While most histories tell of women’s roles in private life, Reconstituting clearly positions women leaders who shaped public space across several centuries in the South. The women celebrated in this four part series are: The Baroness Pontalba, (Micaela), the remarkable 19th century urban designer who had grand vision and was responsible for the creation of the Jackson Square area in New Orleans against a backdrop of domestic violence and female disenfranchisement; Marie Laveau (1795-1881) the great Creole civic and spiritual leader of New Orleans who shaped the material and imaginary life in the city, serving as spiritual leader / healer / mother / dancer / hairdresser / feared black power holder / civil rights advocate; Caroline Dorman (1881-1971) one of Louisiana’s foremost naturalists and educators (the first female forester in the U.S.) advocated an environmentally responsible future of natural resource preservation; and Marie Thereze Coin-coin, the freed female slave who built Melrose Plantation in the 18th century, a African / free / woman / mistress / mother / matriarch / businesswomen / healer / lived in rural French / Spanish / American Louisiana. (Frese‘s images in Picturing Home present only a sampling of this four part series)
Lynda Frese was born in 1956 in Jacksonville, Florida and currently resides in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Since 1986 she has taught at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Frese‘s work – primarily digital – evokes the American South through historical reference and mythology. A gulf coast artist since her relocation in 1986, Frese states, “I respond to the ambiance of French Louisiana, the way the climate is so close to your skin, the Creole spoken in my neighborhood, the seductive lushness of place, ‘place’ is so distinct here.” Widely exhibited and collected, her professional acknowledgments include a 1997 Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to work in Genoa, Italy and most recently, a 1999 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship to work in Genoa in 1999.