Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Home Series

 (Above:  Home Series, Nine vintage photographs with hand embroidered phrases and blanket stitched edges. Hung as a grouping at 46" x 52".  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Several months ago I purchased a "table lot" at Bill Mishoe's estate auction.  I don't remember what was on and under that table that I wanted but it wasn't the stack of vintage photographs featuring this incredible Victorian house.  These pictures just came with all the rest of the stuff, like a "bonus". 

(Above:  Home is Where Secrets are Kept.  All but one of the photographs were mounted on heavy paper mounts measuring 10" x 12".  One ... the one I put in the middle ... is only 8" x 10".  Each frame measures 17" x 15".)

I don't know if this house is still standing.  I don't actually know where or how to look for it.  It could be anywhere.  I do know, however, that the images weren't all snapped on the same day.  Some of the pictures include other buildings that aren't in other pictures.

 (Above:  Home is the Place of Denial.)

The size of the images and type of mounting boards change too.  Nevertheless, it is a stately house.  The people who lived in it must have been proud.  Most of the photos include some of these anonymous people.

 (Above:  Home is Where Walls Divide.)

In my imagination, this is just the sort of house that is envisioned when reading the words "Home Sweet Home".  It is just the sort of place at the end of "over the river and through the snow ... to Grandmother's house we go."  But, the family didn't keep these pictures.  They ended up on an auction table to be sold to the highest bidder (like me, a real cheapskate because I honestly don't need any more heirlooms that weren't even mine.) There has to be a story ... one touched with sadness or regret ... some sort of bittersweet reason why these pictures aren't still treasured.

 (Above:  Home is the Site of Betrayal.)

Perhaps the house was destroyed by a tornado or flood.  Perhaps the family lost it in foreclosure.  Perhaps hard times meant neglect and eventual bull-dozing.  Perhaps it became the focus of lawsuits when family members sued one another for ownership.  Perhaps they just moved away and couldn't bear looking at the images of the special place they left.  One way or the other, the photos weren't kept and I can't imagine a truly "happy" reason for letting them go.

 (Above:  Home. Is it really SWEET?)

Perhaps the knowledge that something sad must have happened prompted me to use these photos to question the truth behind "Home Sweet Home".

 (Above:  Home is the Site of Betrayal.)

Not all homes are happy.  Not all homes conjure up sweet memories.  Not all outward appears accurately reflect inward truths.

(Above:  Home is Where the Lies Begin.)

In fact, I'd bet that even the happiest of homes also has its share of sorrow.  I was reminded of this while in Springfield, Illinois touring the Lincoln home.  In the fancy parlor, Lincoln was asked to run as the Republican parties candidate for president.  What joy!  In the same room, about eight years earlier, nearly four-year-old Edward Lincoln, Abraham and Mary's second son, died. What sorrow! 

 (Above:  Home is Where Dysfunction Rules.)

There have been hundreds of movies and books featuring a beautiful place that functions as a facade for all sorts of evils.  This plot idea isn't new at all. 

 (Above:  Home is Where the Heart Breaks.)

I'd like to say that my feelings of "home" aren't a mess of great joys and tremendous grief, but I can't.  Personally, when I think of "home" as a "sense of place", sweetness isn't what comes to mind first.  That isn't to say I don't have fabulous memories, special feelings, and my share of happy thoughts.  I'm just aware that it wasn't all wonderful.  I'm not someone to sugar-coat parts that include tears.

(Above:  Home is Where Hypocrisy Lives.)

When I think of my home now, I don't envision a building at all.  The first thought is of my husband Steve.  As long as we are together, home can be anywhere ... and most of that really is better than good!


Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

definitely "home is wherever, not necessarily a bricks and mortar" or "in one set place" - maybe the photographs have more do with the person taking the photos, or even this: a new camera...

Leaving the camera aside, what/why did the person take the photograph was it say "we lived here..." or as you have mentioned "grandma/family home stead" or "look what our money/profits was able to build for us. Or "I'll take another photograph because our fortunes have changed, but gee we lived here once..."

Lots of reasons for the different "time periods"

A lot of such homes in NZ have had the demolition ball bashed into it and the photos are the only memory left of the grandeur... and "why?" usually on a good sized land plot where now a dozen or more homes sit...

Susan Lenz said...

From the looks of it, these photos were taken by a professional ... someone who could mount the enlarged images on a heavy cardboard. I'm guessing the people in the images were indeed proud and that the era was at the turn of the twentieth century. You are likely correct that this rather large lot of land has been significantly altered during the past one hundred years. Who knows if this structure is still standing? Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! Today I'm hopefully finishing another project. It seems that I automatically select something silly, fun, happy, and/or humorous after working on something that is mostly none of those things!