We got rid of the oldest things first in cleaning out my studio. When my husband lifted a pile of beaten-up salon cases, I spied an interesting one on top, criss-crossed with packing tape, post marks, and a label from the Guggenheim Foundation. I took a photo with my phone and reluctantly let the case go. After all, I wouldn’t make much progress if I couldn’t let things go.
Yet the decision nagged at me. I couldn’t get it out of my head– there was a palimpsest of character and history in those materials, now gone forever.
Standing amid my life’s work– dozens of darkroom paper boxes, hundreds of prints, thousands of negatives, crates of cameras and framed photographs– I knew I had to photograph these objects. The themes central to my art and life were hand-written on boxes and cases: Funeral & Family, Queen of Hearts, Apparition Lesson, Christ Bride, Cellar Door. Once used simply as internal titles to organize my images, in Notes to Myself these titles read like a cryptic narrative from a private journal or an inadvertent archive inscribed in rhythmic fragments.
So began a project that’s quite a departure from my photographs of American women and girls. Notes to Myself: An Inadvertent History is both an intimate record of my life’s work and a slice of the history of photography dating back to the 1970s.