Jennifer McClure is one of the 50 best emerging photographers for 2015, as voted by the eight-member international jury for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2015. Here is her winning entry and artist’s statement. View her profile to learn more about her and to see more of her great work.
When something is festering in your memory or your imagination, laws of silence don’t work. It’s like shutting a door and locking it on a house on fire in hope of forgetting that the house is burning.
—Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
I’ve been afraid of letting go of the life I was programmed to live. I was taught that having a family and a home and a church and a regular job, all good Southern values, meant that I was successful. My own family life was difficult and displaced, not something I wished to reproduce. I am distrustful of both people and the idea of the “American Dream.” I’ve avoided any of the rites and rituals that signify “success” but failed to replace a broken mythology with any other.
I began searching for signs of meaningful relationships and missed opportunities, trying to piece together a map of how to be. I needed to look at the past, see it clearly, and then see beyond it. Symbols of a damaged childhood, when contained within a frame, no longer carry the unbounded force of memory. Signs of connection, when taken out of context, reveal themselves to be fallacies. I have been afraid that I will drown in other people. I couldn’t see how water can soothe and sustain as well as destroy.
Thomas Roma likens the making of photographs to Robert Frost’s idea of making a poem: “A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness, a lovesickness.” These pictures come from that emotional space of longing, of wishing for things that never were and might never be. I can only see a feeling clearly when I disarm and immobilize it, pin it to the wall and examine it with the others. I’m learning how to be alone without being lonely, how to be carried without being overwhelmed, and to walk away from what I want to leave behind.