Three Generations and You're Out

This project was born in an antique store when I came upon stacks of formal studio portraits from the early 1900’s. I was looking for photographs of people I could use in a whimsical montage I was creating.

But as I set these portraits around my office a far greater realization struck. These faces became much more than props. Personalities sparked into life. This woman must have been named Betty. She must have had a checkered past. That man was named Joe. He didn’t have much luck with women.

Imagination? Freaky Twilight Zone episode? Too much Bass Ale?

The moment I sensed that vitality I was shocked to realize that these once living and breathing persons had all been discarded. Like out of date neckties. Surely these people had family and descendants who cherished them and kept these photographic keepsakes in loving memory.

But it’s not difficult to imagine the scene. Musty old photographs stuffed into a bottom drawer. Who is this woman? Was this man someone’s great grandfather? Your side of the family or mine? Hmmm. We’ve got to clean out this mess. Why keep these laying around?

It was disconcerting to see these heirlooms cast aside. Will we be forgotten as well? Our achievements brushed away with the sweep of the hour hand? Our memories so much dust in the breeze?

So I began to create stories around these perceptions. Letting each image direct my imagination where it will.

My hope is that these wonderful folks would enjoy seeing themselves in the environment I have created. A touch of reincarnation.

The first composite, Family Album, portrays our march into oblivion.

I hope you enjoy them.

Lou Oates

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