The photographs are of strangers, friends and family members from my hometown of Rochester, New York. I am strongly interested in family histories, genealogy, and myths. The pictures use the vernacular of interior and exterior home environments as a stage to situate the subject(s) and to build mythological narratives. My work stems from an interest in the “realness” of the family snapshot, but the large-format scale brings a certain grandeur and intensity of detail to the snapshot aesthetic, allowing the viewer a close proximity to comprehending a subject’s connection to their external and internal worlds, i.e., family, home, and identity.
Through photographing, I am allowed a uniquely intimate access into the subject’s world. The interchange between self and other, photographer and subject is a relationship that I attempt to cultivate during the photographic process. It is the subtle gestures betraying their embracement of, or anxiety towards the poses that I suggest that bring the images into full fruition. At the moment of taking the image both of our voices meet, and through a close reading of the image the dialogue between artist and subject is found. My desire is to give both myself, and the subjects within my images agency to discuss elements of ourselves that are powerful and complex.
Deana Lawson is a photographer whose work examines portraiture and the subjects’ relationship to his or her familial surroundings. She received her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2004 and has received various grants and awards, such as the Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Commission of Culture & Tourism, Light Work Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, and the Photography Institute Fellowship from Columbia University. She was an Artist-in-Residence at the Visual Studies Work Shop in Rochester, NY and has given lectures at Southern Connecticut State University, Syracuse University, and at the International Center of Photography. A few of her many exhibitions have been held at the Black Rock Arts Center, Bridgeport, CT; the Print Center, Philadelphia, PA; Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC; and the Leroy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY.