Celebrations come with a highly idealized notion of what they should look and feel like: happy happy fun fun with smiling group selfies. But festivities come in many packages—large and small, public and private, happy and sad, simple and elaborate—and our expectations breed their own anxieties. I, too, go into each celebration with a preconceived idea of what it will look like; I am as seduced as anybody by the Platonic ideal of what a celebration should be. Though ritual threads its way through these gatherings from beginning to end, and can provide some kind of guide, celebrations can be complicated situations to navigate, fraught with dread and unforeseen collisions.
This series grew out of my love for celebrations: I want to be wherever there are balloons, pennants, and colorful party widgets. The photographs are intricate restagings of actual celebrations. I observe and document the event in real time, then select key interactions, expressions, and moments to create an essentialized version. Then, everyone returns to reenact this fictional mash-up. In these photographs, I capture the range of emotions and experiences of each person, as well as the resulting group dynamic.
I started working on Celebration (2018-current) in conjunction with the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists 2017. The work is on view at the Haggerty Museum of Art from June 7- Aug 5, 2018. I look forward to exploring this project in much more depth and range beyond this initial exhibition over the coming years.