Alphabet Good Humor is a series inspired by Claes Oldenburg's sculpture of the same name.
My photographs are a narrative to describe how Mr. Oldenburg may have been inspired to come up with his sculpture. In the photos, I focused on the Good Humor Ice Cream man, the studio he may have worked in or the place he may have gone for the summer. All art is inspired by something. I am not sure what moved
Mr. Oldenburg in real life but I had fun wondering.
My photographs are from a series entitled, “When She Was Young”. The images portray my nieces and my dog playing among the sculptures in Mr. George Segal’s studio in North Brunswick, NJ. They are my idea of what it might have been like for Rena Segal, George Segal's daughter, to grow up playing in his studio. The narratives examine the many ways a child might see the sculptures when left to his(or her) own imagination.
Rena used to tell me stories about how she would play in the studio while her dad was working. She used to draw and paint with him. I wondered how she felt as a child with the figures looming about, whether she used to talk to them. Interestingly, she does refer to the works by the name of the model since in most cases they were family members or friends.
Then, one day during a tour of the studio and I found an old mask like the one from “The Costume Party” sculpture. Rena gave it to me and it took it home to think about how I might be able to use it in one of my photographs.
My first photograph in the series was titled the same as the sculpture, The Costume Party. My niece posed with the mask wrapped in Charlie Brown fabric. I specifically use props and toys that would be from Rena’s childhood, like the 1964 World Fair shirt. I was able to integrate my signature style of diorama with toys on a much larger scale.
I have been in museums with Rena where she is prohibited, because of insurance, to touch the artwork. The idea of touching art that is so valuable and using it as a toy/prop is sacrilegious to some people. I feel lucky to be able to have free reign to do whatever I want, with in reason.
The most ironic part is that Rena is always around when I work in the studio.
We have a lot of fun playing with the kids and she is always open to my silly ideas. My photographs documenting her childhood have become a reality in the present even if it is not the way she did it,“when she was young.”
My photographs are from an ongoing series entitled, Rena Restores. The woman in the photographs is Rena Segal, daughter of the sculptor, George Segal. I started taking her portrait in an effort to break from my typical subject of dolls particularly Barbie. Rena and I have been friends for many years so she was relaxed with me taking her picture and readily volunteered as my model.
I started working with Rena as she white washed and cleaned up her dad’s work before it would go out to a show or to a collector. After her dad died in 2000, she found it hard to go into his studio. Although she is in charge of the George and Helen Segal Foundation, along with her Mom and cousin Susan, she never worked on her dad’s sculptures before. He always told her what he was doing and how to do this type of restoration but she never took it on before. Working with her in the studio helped to make the process a fun job.
The photographs are documentary in style yet they have a sentimental feeling to them. The black and white brings out the starkness of the original sculptures. Rena does not make eye contact with the camera and works comfortably while I take her picture. This job helps to keep her close with her dad. It is not a job she needed to do herself but it brings back fond memories of her childhood. Rena not only watched her dad work but, was often a model herself. Two of the photographs exhibited are of Rena painting a sculpture of her own body. I found this very ironic. The day I came to do this work she specifically wore a Bruce Springsteen shirt for the picture as he is her (and my) favorite.
The original negatives are shot with a medium format hasselblad camera. The negative was scanned and printed with an Epson archival printer. The prints are also available hand printed silverprint.
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