Susan E. Evans, Saga, 2001-2005, mixed media installation, courtesy the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

Susan E. Evans, “Saga”, 2001-2005, mixed media installation, courtesy the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

Susan E. Evans

I have always been fascinated with family image shrines. Being adopted I do not have a family history and find myself studying each one I encounter (perhaps looking for a family resemblance?). Identifying recurring themes, various iconic groupings, and recognizing the intimacy context of each, I have created an idealized family history, complete with skeletons and all the things of which we do not speak.   

Most Americans photograph both the historical and legendary events in their lives. Images are then grouped together to project a prosperous, fertile, and well-adjusted family image. Today family imagery seems less concerned with showing a state of grace than the need to appear well adjusted. Pleasure has replaced stability as the most important family goal; yet, imagery still clings to metaphors of family unity and cohesion to maintain the illusion of values we as a society no longer have.

Saga is a site-specific installation that examines the visual family metaphor, constructed family myth, and the photographic trophy as comodification of experience, culture, and family. It explores three idealized visual metaphors created photographically for the family itself: a state where ties are rooted in property, spiritual assembly based on shared values and morals, and a bond of feeling that stems from instinct and desire. By examining this set of visual rules that shape our experience and memory, it will enable the visualization of a point where public and private, and social and psychological structures collapse onto one another.

Susan E. Evans earned her MFA in Photography from Cornell University and her BA from Goddard College. Her work is represented and shown at Hasted Hunt Gallery in NYC and Gallery Sink in Denver. In addition she has exhibited at thePhotographic Resource Center in Boston, CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, Light Work inSyracuse, Houston Center for Photography,Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona, as well as abroad in Japan, France, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Chile, andColumbia. Evan’s talent has garnered numerous awards including a 2005 artist fellowship and residency with Canton of Bern in Switzerland, a 2002 Atlantic Center for the Arts Fellowship, and a 2001 Houston Centerfor Photography Fellowship award. Her work is in collections at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the George Eastman House, the Museum of Fine Art Houston, and the Center for Creative Photography. Her work has been reviewed in Art New England,Boston Globe, New York Times, Photography Quarterly, and the Washington Post.