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A Personal Matter of Some Account

Fall Edition 2017
Michelle Saffran

Up Coming

Axel's Gallery
Anonymity of In Between:  body, place and time

Above (left to right)
Anonymity of In-Between, Point of Attachment and Strayed From the Past ( 38" x 13"  Saffran 2016 - 2017)

Axel's Gallery and Frame Shop
Opening, THIS FRIDAY  the 13th of October  6 - 8 pm
Show runs October 10 - November 11
5 Stowe Street.  Waterbury. VT
802. 244. 7801
Gallery hours:  Tuesday - Friday 10 - 6 pm
Saturday 10 - 4 pm

Standing on the threshold between re-imagination and materiality the installation, Anonymity of In-between: body, place and time, speaks to the dislocation of self which occurs when the place of memory clashes with the memory of place.

Despite my emotional attachment to the house I grew up in it has remained steadfast in its indifference to me; ignoring both my presence and absence. This house, and my experiences within, underpins everything that came later in life.  Yet as entwined as we are, the house has gone on to have an identity that has strayed from my own past, forging a void between my body and place.  For me this place will always be what it was, but what it was, only exists in my mind.

Behind the Scenes

I have been working on the series for a year now and its time for public presentation has come.  In this fall newsletter I will share with you behind the scenes process photos of how the Axel's installation has come into form.

My small studio became even smaller when I am sewing, printing, editing and assembling work.  Having 75 pound Jasper in the middle of the room doesn't help either!  In fact there are usually two big warm fuzzy studio assistants laying in the middle of the room just behind my feet as I work standing at the table.

Pictured above is Dinner Time, one of two large sewn and collage pieces that are part of the show.  This is the second version of this particular piece and thanks to feedback from my Tuesday afternoon art group  I think it has evolved to that point of just right.  I decided not to sew the vertical panels together other so they would hang, overlap and cast shadows over each other, giving more depth along with and the suggestion of impermanence.  Each individual panel is made from 1 to 3 pieces sewn together.  Overall dimensions are irregular and approximately 45" long by 52" wide.


How to hang the work is an ongoing challenge.  My interest in the possibility and transformation of the photograph into an object encourages me to avoid the tradition of matting and framing under glass whenever possible.  Unfortunately, typical of my process is to not worry about how to hang the work while creating and then frantically scramble at the end to figure out how to send it to a gallery for hanging.  Most gallery's require some kind of hanging system that lets them put the piece on the wall easily.  Non-traditional hanging systems are not always welcome.  For the show at Axel's I tried to work smarter and incorporate a way to display the work into their design as I was working.  Thinking about the way scrolls and quilts are displayed lead me to the idea of sewing 3/4" dowels into the top and bottom edge of the photograph.  These scroll like photos (there are 12 of them) will now, hopefully, easily hang from the rail system or directly on the wall of the gallery.


The installation includes family snapshots taken over the years but the idea of scanning the almost 80 photographs (my usual process) was overwhelming.  I lost more than one night of sleep puzzling out what to do.  Once I stopped thinking about what to do the perfect solution came to me.  Funny how the mind works!  I put each original snapshot into a small archival clear bag, sewed it closed.  My original plan was to group them together and stick them on the wall using removable sticky putty.  Again, thanks to feedback from the Tuesday afternoon art group these little individual bags of snapshots moved off the wall and onto the ceiling. I sewed an additional piece of thread to each bag and tied them, one by one, to an old aluminum window screen (found through Front Porch Forum) and hung the whole piece from a hook in the gallery ceiling.  What a challenge.  Sewing on plastic made my sewing machine irate. The ripping of the bag and the breaking of thread made me irate.  Once the bags were sewn, no matter what I did, the thread got tangled.  Once sewn it was nearly impossible to support the screen off the ground so I could continue to tie the bags onto it.  At one point Jasper plowed through the hanging threads (photo on the right above) and sent the entire piece to the floor in a tangled mess.  I won't tell you how long it took me to straighten that out once it was picked up!  I also won't mention what a tangled mess I had once I arrived at the gallery to install this piece aptly named Hanging By A Thread.  (HINT:  the original snapshots that I used in large collages   Dinner Time and  Easter Portrait 1964 are among the hanging photos).

I was inspired by two installation that I saw over the summer: "Walk Into My Heart" at the Big Town Gallery in Rochester VT by Deborah Bohner,  and "A Stranger Stands Here" by David Kennedy at BCA.  Space in this newsletter prevents me from writing about these visits but they bare mentioning as they offered encouragement to the development of my first ever installation.  I also spent time revisiting the book "the messengers" by Annette Messager, an artist that has challenged and motivated me over the years.  Her use of space within a room and of nontraditional media to tell politically tinged personal narratives has given me courage more than once.

Above (left to right) Failure of the Present, Mutual Dependency of Thought and Experience and Reclamation Through Absorption (38" x 13" Saffran 2016 - 2017).

I have only written about a few of the several works you will see in the show, there are plenty of surprises yet to see.  I look forward to sharing this collection of photographs with you.  See you soon.

To see my other work visit my website here.

Thanks for reading and for supporting my work!  I will be in touch.

Respectfully Submitted,



Copyright © 2017 Michelle Saffran Photography, All rights reserved.

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