Liz Albert is a photographic artist who has exhibited her work in group shows throughout the United States since 1986, including The Photographic Center Northwest, Griffin Museum of Photography, The Photographic Resource Center, The Danforth Museum, The A.I.R. Gallery and The Houston Center for Photography. Her work was most recently included in the national exhibition of “The Fence 2018”, which is currently on tour in seven cities throughout the US and Canada. She holds a BFA from the University of Michigan, an MFA in photography from Maryland Institute College of Art, and a post-baccalaureate in teaching from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Liz explores the theme of family in her work through different approaches, such as toy cameras and appropriated found imagery in the form of diptychs and installations. Currently she is working on a series, titled “Family Fictions”, in which she juxtaposes individual family slides bought on eBay to create a fictional narrative. In addition to being a practicing artist, she has taught photography at Rhode Island School of Design, SMFA at Tufts and The Winsor School. She is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan and lives with family in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Family photographs document reality…or do they? Revisiting these images years later, we often project what we want to remember, whether it really happened that way or not. In this project I have gathered anonymous photographs of family experiences, and by selecting and pairing images in a different context, give new meaning to both the images and the relationships within the frames.
I started my research by taking a closer look at my own family slides. What I found in the neatly arranged metal boxes were scores of pictures from family vacations, birthday parties and playing “dress up”. I soon realized, however, that although I had a strong connection to these images, they were not “good” photographs – making them only interesting to my family and myself. Putting these aside, I wanted to look deeper into the family archives of others. I turned to eBay where I perused thousands of individual slides from the 1950’s-1970’s, acquiring those images, which I found to be emotionally and visually compelling. Pairing these pictures together allows me to be the director of my own Hitchcock movie – selecting scenes which, combined with others, suggest a story line, which is evocative and cinematic.
The most prominent theme in my parings is that of travel. Many of the characters, are women, venturing off on their own, whether it be the desert or the mountains, leaving behind the expectations and responsibilities of what’s happening in the adjacent frame; both physically and emotionally. It’s uncertain, however, if they will ever get to where they are going – or even if they know where that place is.
There is a subversive pleasure in working with other people’s family memories and manipulating their meaning by changing the context in which they are viewed. Ironically, even though I decided not to use my own family slides for this project, in the end, the individuals in these photographs reflect aspects of my own family dynamics – both past and present. Which just goes to show – we are always close to home even when we are far away.
To view more of Liz Albert’s work please visit her website.