Nostalgia as Muse
In endless reorganizations of my website, the titles of the various galleries change constantly. Yet, there is overlap and redundancy. What are the keywords that continue to appear from category to category? One is Nostalgia. The Oxford Language dictionary defines nostalgia as "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations".
In my work, nostalgia as muse takes different forms such as architecture, industry and enigmatic vestiges of man found in the landscape. Projects I have created include textile mills, rural farm structures and an obsolete elevated railroad. In common they harken back to a different time, of purposefulness and innovation. Their obsolescence in the face of more efficient, less personalized options stimulates my curiosity as to what their heyday must have been.
Nostalgia can be found in objects left behind. Furniture that once housed clothing, toys left on shelves gathering dust, tools that once graced a craftsman’s hands, all still embody the spirit and presence.
In my life, I remember the smell of old beachside cottages, the sound of presses and stamping machines and exploring attics filled with trunks and discarded appliances. Photography has given me the tools to preserve a sense of belonging, and a communication with our past, one that is easy to forget as we move on to bigger and better things. My fascination with pictorial history imbues me with the purpose of recording this relics of our past, so they will be remembered.
It is said that the camera looks both ways. In exploring our subjects and metaphors, we are illuminating parts of ourselves, digging more deeply into our ‘why’. In the words of Alister Benn: “Finding your muse is about finding yourself or facets of self, and once we recognize ourselves externally, we know ourselves internally.”