Stacy Renee Morrison is the newest member of the Visual Narrative family. She’ll be joining us in the summer to help teach the History of Visual Narrative class, featuring photography.
I browsed her site and not only did I love her photos and figurines, I loved her writing. For a series titled “The Girl of My Dreams”, Stacy Renee Morrison wrote (beautifully!):
“My photographs invoke a woman’s life, one of which I am incapable of ever truly knowing, but seek longingly in my imagination and the sacred sampling of remnants she left behind.
She first haunted my dreams when I lived in small room with comforting brick walls in New York City. She was always dressed in black, with her hair in tightly woven braids, and she would whisper secrets to me. I knew exactly who she was. She was the elder of two girls in a daguerreotype found in a dilapidated leather box, filled with other precious possessions, abandoned in the garbage in front of my building.
Her mortality, saved by the objects that remained, compelled me so deeply; I needed to photograph them all. Her fragments, these small spindly pieces of a much greater life narrative, became so deeply imprinted on my psyche that this mysterious woman and I are forever entwined. She made me question a greater human understanding of life, death and the tiny, precarious little threads that bind these two philosophically wrought subjects together.
To canonize an anonymous life story left unclear did not seem well intentioned enough. It was not acceptable for her to be merely a passing gesture to history and femininity. She wanted more from me, but it would take two years from our first acquaintance before I would experience any sort of clarity about the tale I was to uncover.
With a name on a calling card and a genealogical quest, my lovely ghost was soon found. Her name was Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander and she was born in Bristol, Rhode Island in 1841, rendering our birthdates 133 years apart. I devoted all of my available time and energy to discover everything in the world about my beloved. The fragments of her life left behind in the box and the subsequent knowledge of her life that I gained, kept replaying backward and forward through my mind. For every small conquest of information there was a greater realm of reality opened up. Often this reality was so complex that unless Sylvia was present in front of me, speaking with t he utmost candor, my inquiries would be left to the most faithful device I had to offer her, my imagination.
The solution: through the medium of photography Sylvia and I create this wondrous period of “No-When.” It is not a fantasy world, but a very real place where we co-exist together. I float backwards, an apparition in a foreign time and place, slowly placing her life in context. She comes to visit me in the present, carefully supplying me with sacred details from her once life. I visit the homes she lived in, wander her town, spend lengthy amounts of time with her great-granddaughter, wear her clothing and read her journals in order to contemplate and fully realize the woman she once was. A century of time may separate us physically, but we are entirely intertwined, safe, cozy and happily ensconced in our world where time ceases to matter.
The photographs set against black are the objects, which belonged to Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander. The complimenting photographs are my interpretations of her life.”
To see more of her work, head to her site where you can enjoy her “quiet, polite and sometimes macabre photographs…”
BA, Rutgers University; MA, New York University
One-person exhibitions include:
Fine Arts Center Galleries, University of Rhode Island; York Quay Art Centre, Toronto; Palazzetto Eucherio San Vitale, Parma
Group exhibitions include:
Michael Mazzeo Gallery; San Francisco Camerawork; Center for Photography at Woodstock; Women in Photography; Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco; Sol Mednick Gallery, University of the Arts, Philadelphia
Providence Journal, Westerly Sun, Mercury, Photography Quarterly, Motif, Mesh
Awards and honors include:
Rhode Island Council for the Humanities