Working with photo-assemblage is new territory for me. I am drawn to it because it is enabling me to delve into subjects that I have often thought about but, for various reasons, have been unable to investigate directly with my camera. Some examples of this would be war and space exploration—events that took place during my childhood and other things that either exist or existed outside of my personal experience.
Out of Fiction, my title, refers to a theme that is woven throughout much of my work over time—the interplay between reality and fiction in which each affects the other in ways both foreseeable and unforeseeable. Sometimes the results can be regrettable. Sometimes they are simply interesting or deliciously entertaining. Then, there are the startling outcomes, where innovations once thought to be pure fantasy have become real through the agency of imagination born out of fiction.
The idea to make this series of photographic assemblages has been in my mind since 1981, when I happened to take a picture of a page torn from a Roy Rogers colouring book that was stuck to a friend’s fridge door in Belmont, Massachusetts. Initially, it caught my attention as it glowed in the brilliant, winter-morning sunlight. But later, after making a print, what really struck me was the unexpected cryptic quality the image seemed to possess for reasons I have been unable to put into words. This photograph has continued to hold my curiosity over the years. Again and again, I have looked at it with undiminished interest, which seems out of proportion for an image that was simply a photograph of a page in a children’s activity book. Perhaps it isn’t that simple at all. Aside from their main function to entertain children and exercise their creativity, these books often contain content that serves to instill social values in children and colour their view of the world. Nevertheless, I haven’t seen this as being overly disturbing. Rather, it is a starting point from which to make new works while thinking of the historical context within which the colouring books I have chosen to work with were first published.