Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07

Student: Catherine Toscano        

Mentor: Alexis Martino

Consultants: John Messinger and Kathryn Szoka

Domain: Media

Product                            

Title: Past-Perfect

Description:

I created a series of images that explore moments of childhood.  I was inspired by the writing of Eric Fromm and the images created by Sally Mann.  I used my own memories as a starting point to create the narrative of my photo essay.  The images illustrated psychological themes of growing up, such as solitude, happiness, desire, and fear.  The strong connection between memory and imagination motivated this body of work.    

Details:

 Children Pratle

 “We dance around the ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

                                                                        -Robert Frost

   “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” –Robert Frost

Now running here, now resting there, as bright as light, as free as air.

  

The possibilities     And the disappointments

of a doll.                  they bring

       “Do you see the shimmer of the rainbow, which unites earth to heaven?” So has there been a bridge built between this world and the next. Through the night of the grave we gaze upwards beyond the starts to the end of all things. Then we glance at the pearl of Sorrow, in which are concealed the wings which shall carry us away to eternal happiness.” ”Sleep that knits the raveled sleeve of care.” Is s  he peeking? Does she care? –Shakespeare (Macbeth) We Play at our fears. They do not register on our faces.

        

Losing Andy is hard.       The dream of the old oak.

 Tell him the squirrels leap the boughs, the woodpecker goes tap, tap, tap! While baby rabbits sit and browse upon the green turf’s mossy lap.

 Wild her eyes are as the sea

                                                            When northern winds blow lustily.

          

“The woods are lonely, dark, and           And all the while I purred and purred,

Deep and I have promises to keep.”      Or softly said, “Mew, mew”;

                        -Robert Frost                                 With grown-up people in the room

                                                                     ‘Twas all that I could do.

The world spins with Nora at the center—for now.

Swing me up and swing me down,

Swing me up towards the sky—

Swinging is like being blown,

Blow me up and let me fly,

Like a piece of thistle-down—

Swing me towards the sky.

Hide and seek, its not a game.

 

 

Were I a fish beneath the sea,

Shell-paved and pearl-brocaded,

Would you come down and live with me,

In groves by coral shaded?

Blissful wonder.

 “Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.” –Fran Lebowitz

  Seeing is believing.

Abstract

I created a series of images that explore moments of childhood.  I was inspired by the writing of Eric Fromm and by the images created by Sally Mann.  I used my own memories as a starting point to create the narrative of my photo essay.  The images illustrated psychological themes of growing up such as solitude, happiness, desire, and fear.  The strong connection between memory and imagination motivated this body of work.    

I initially started off photographing children because I felt I could explore the subject matter with more honesty than other topics such as adults or teenagers.  I wanted to achieve a strong body of work in the end, and present my final product to everyone in a gallery exhibition.

I began pre-production this past summer by brainstorming, writing in my process book, looking at images from other artists, and getting back into shooting.  Through this entire process, I have never stopped learning new information and gaining from every experience.  I found out that before going on a shoot it was a good idea to have a clear plan of what I was going to do.  This made all the difference when working with kids because if I did not give them guidelines I would get nothing done. 

Some challenges I encountered along the way were finding parents who were willing to let me photograph their children.  Another issue that often resurfaced was having difficulty with my camera.  This new camera that I bought ended up having problems that I was unaware of, so I ended up losing a lot of film due to difficulties with my camera.  Overall though, the hardest task for me was putting all of my images together and creating a story that supported all of my work.  I found it was difficult having to let go of some of my images that did not fit well with the others, or did not support the point that I’m trying to make.  Then just trying to piece all of my work together and make sure that it supported my artist statement was a task in itself. 

Another part of the process was the darkroom work, and this was really time consuming.  We had to print all of our images, which is not an easy task, especially if you have a bad negative to work off of.  This is where I was able to improve my printing skills because the bad negative made the printing process much more difficult.  We also learned how to print fiber-based paper, which is different from the regular RC paper that we’re used to.  We also learned the entire process it takes to frame an image, and this again is very time consuming.

Overall, I feel that I fulfilled all of my goals that I set out for myself from the beginning.  I was able to create a strong body of work, have it support my artist statement, and show everyone my work in a gallery exhibition.  This senior project also made me realize how much photography is a part of my life.  I now know that I definitely want to pursue photography in my life and throughout college.

Past-Perfect: had + the past participle of a verb, as in, had feared, had endured, had emerged. These three past-perfect verbs are at the center of my portraits of children. The tensions of childhood—a heady mixture of intrigue, confusion and fear—are the inevitable bumps on the road to adulthood.

Childhood memories flood my mind as I stand on the precipice of yet another change. And, like the children emerging in these photographs, I hope to portray the universal innocence in all of us who fear the coming of age. Like the verb that points to a past before the past, to a memory always out of reach, children, too, are “passed” perfect.

Works Consulted

Frankel, Mark. Personal interview. 7 Dec. 2006.

Lichtenstein, Theresa. Personal interview. 4 Oct. 2006.

Lichtenstein, Theresa. Personal interview. 29, Nov. 2006

Lichtenstein, Theresa. Personal interview. 13 Dec. 2006.

Mann, Sally. At Twelve Portraits of a Young Women. Italy: Aperture Foundation, Inc., 1988.

Martino, Alexis. Personal interview. 21 Sept. 2006.

Messinger, John. Personal interview. 2 Jan.2007.

Szoka, Kathryn. Personal interview. 7 Oct. 2006.

Szoka, Kathryn. Personal interview. 5 Nov. 2006.

Szoka, Kathryn. Personal interview. 2 Dec. 2006.

Szoka, Kathryn. Personal interview. 4 Jan. 2007.

Community Member (Details)

John Messinger.  Graduated from Boston University and used to attend Ross School.  He is currently a freelance photographer.

Kathryn Szoka.  She is currently a freelance photographer who owns her own bookstore in Sag Harbor- Canios Books.  Her work has been shown in gallery’s such as Guild Hall, and her bookstore.