A few years ago, I stumbled upon a collectively curated antique shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The store itself couldn’t have been more than 500 square feet, but what it lacked in space, it made up for in oddities. Tucked in among the hand-painted china, jingling trinkets and lace-trimmed handkerchiefs sat a pile of black and white photographs. Immediately, I was drawn to the images, the lives and emotions they kept frozen. I couldn’t help but feel intrusive as my eyes stared straight into the faces of these unknown individuals.
Since that day, it has become a hobby of mine to browse through stacks and worn boxes of photographs whenever I pay a visit at to an antique shop. Although it is a nosey, guilty pleasure, I find these images to be nostalgic reminders of times, places and even people I have never known.
Fortunately, I recently became familiar with Angela Deane, a fellow old photograph aficionado. After spending time working on her art and fashion career in both New York and London, Deane has found herself in her home state of Florida, creating haunting, anonymous memories for us all.
Velvet Bench, Acrylic on found photograph, 2013
Deane so elegantly and creatively captures mysterious, corny and painful memories of the past, while simultaneously stirring the deepest depths of our souls and morbid curiosities. Amateurly-snapped found images of days spent at amusement parks, afternoons lounging by the pool, and children playing and dancing have been blurred over with white acrylic paint and two black dots. This simple alteration, like tossing on a bed sheet with eyeholes cut out before partying on Halloween, opens up a universe of possible narratives. These very personal memories, originally meant for the privacy of family photo albums, now take on unique significance for faceless audiences. Transformed into eerie, charmingly awkward ghosts of the past, casually partaking in common activities, the whitewashed subjects of the photographs make us wonder who those children grew up to be, whether it was a happy or disastrous summer vacation, if those strangers are even still alive…. and without doubt, the reminder that we too will eventually fade into the mysterious people of yesteryear, found scattered on random secondhand store shelves, softly clouds our vision.
Sympathy Pains, Acrylic on found photograph, 2014
Lido, Acrylic on found photograph, 2015
Mother Darling, Acrylic on found photograph, 2015
I applaud new-age contemporary visionaries like Angela Deane, who build on a strong tradition of incorporating pre-existing items into new creations, for proving that fine art and someone else’s memories are hardly ever mutually exclusive, and that others’ experiences, when shared through any creative means, and completely transfigure our own.
In her online bio, Deane sweetly states, “Welcome to my world of ghosts and witches and dancing creatures. Thank you for coming. Don’t be a stranger.”
You’ve got it going on, Angela. I am absolutely captivated and slightly creeped out, as I often like to be after discussing good art. Get spooked yourself, and discover the rest of Deane’s well-rounded portfolio here.
KelliAnne E. McSorley
Dancing Franks, Acrylic and gouache on found photograph, 2015
Blue Veil, Acrylic on found photograph, 2013
Champagne Wheels, Acrylic on found photograph, 2015
Witches in Water (They Don’t All Melt), Acrylic and gouache on found photograph, 2015
Stuck at the Hip, Acrylic and gouache on found photograph, 2015
The Bride Wears Red, Acrylic and gouache on found photograph, 2015
The Ghost Upstairs, Acrylic on found photograph, 2015