When viewing family photographs from previous generations, I am struck by how much they both reveal and hide about the family they are depicting. They document family members exactly as they were in a moment and, yet, only hint at what the dynamics between them were like. When I view photographs of my family, I find I not only view them objectively, but subjectively. I search for meaning through my family members’ body language and the environments they inhabit, trying to see into the hidden part of their lives.
My family photographs are small, most 3 by 3 inch squares, and damaged, having been bent and ripped. Their physical state seems to mimic what they depict: a family whose history has been racked by illness, substance addiction, and neglect. Confounded by this troubling history, I seek to reconcile with it by turning my family photographs into realistic pencil drawings. The drawings, which I create through a combination of referencing my family photographs and using my imagination, act as updated family photographs, each reconfigured to better convey what I believe the hidden part of my family members’ lives was like.