and artist Kimberly Austin (M.F.A., '94) describes
her work as "an ongoing investigation of the space that lies between
acceptable and deviant behavior, that which is congratulated in society
and that which is condemned."
Her latest case study? Her grandparents. Austin knew little about them
until she discovered a box of their old letters and faded photographs.
Her grandparents' correspondence revealed a turbulent marriage. Austin's
grandmother struggled with "her roles as mother, wife, and lover"
and abandoned her family for a series of men. The images, however, seemed
to tell a different story.
The "romantic photo booth portraits and amateur family photographs
attempt to emulate some sense of normalcy," Austin says. Struck
by the discrepancy in the records of her grandparents' lives from 1939
to 1958, she photographed the correspondence and portraits. Then, using
collage techniques, Austin mounted copies of the images onto wood panels.
The collection offers "an intimate investigation of family dynamics
and provides a rare opportunity to hear the female voice unedited,"
Austin says. "Whether we view Edna as a failed mother and wife,
or question the limited amount of choices and diversity of roles women
were afforded, her words shed light on the necessity of having options."
Earlier this year, Austin's "Adam & Edna" images won her
the prestigious 2003/2004 James D. Phelan Art Award in photography exhibition.
The award, sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation and administered
by SF Camerawork, is given to three California-born artists each year.
information, including upcoming exhibitions: