Northwest Projects Gallery & Charles M. Bair Family Gallery
We see our personal truths reflected, through photos and words, in the lives of others.
We are reminded, in this acrimonious age, of our commonalities. — Jane Waggoner Deschner
Jane Waggoner Deschner began working on the series, remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photographs, in 2015, to respond to what she experienced as the “caustic tone arising in our country.” Since then, she has hand-embroidered over eleven thousand found photographs with texts from obituaries written by anonymous family and friends.
The photographs span the decades of popular black and white photography, chronicling people, places and times. While studio portraits tend toward intentional self-representation, family snapshots often capture random, unintended elements. Obituaries, written by loved ones, are a form of familial self-representation and collective memory. Their shared anecdotes and mottoes highlight noteworthy aspects of an individual’s life.
The artist carefully pairs each vernacular photo with obituary text written about a different person. “The photos ‘read’ the texts and vice versa, teasing pretension, tragi-comedy and profound truths about the human condition from sentimental artifacts,” Deschner states. “We see our personal truths reflected, through photos and words, in the lives of others.” The immersive installation is both humorous and poignant, weighted by an accumulation of personal stories that span and connect across time and place.
The viewer continually shifts their awareness between the facial expressions and vintage styles represented in individual images, the content of the stitched tributes, the details of the stitching, and the overall installation. Accompanied by mid-century furniture, knickknacks, and mounds of found hand-crocheted doilies and afghans, the installation alludes to the familiar spaces of homes and offices. The repetition of standard frames and hand-stitched texts imposes a formal framework that contains and unites the sentimental artifacts. This accumulation of collected and remixed memories calls attention to the universal aspects of human experience.
Jane Waggoner Deschner grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, moving to Montana in 1977. She earned a BS in geography at the University of Kansas, a BA in art at Montana State University–Billings, and an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently representing Montana in Her Flag, Marilyn Artus’ art project that celebrates the centennial of the 19th Amendment. In 2019, she was selected as an Artist’s Innovation Award recipient by the Montana Arts Council. In 2018, her work was featured in “In Her Hands,” at Robert Mann Gallery, NYC. An interview conducted by vernacular photo collector Robert E. Jackson was recently featured on Humble Arts Foundation New Photography. She has been awarded numerous artist residencies across the US and Canada. Her work is in public and private collections in the US and South Korea. In addition to her studio practice, she works as an exhibition installer, graphic designer, photographer, instructor, curator and picture framer.
Larry & Ruth Martin