Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Best

Each of the older family photos that I have in my possession is sacred to me, but as much as they captivate me, I have to remind myself not to romanticize the past.

Photos give us the impression of holding history in our hands and being able to retrace its physical form with our curious eyes and fingertips. That grasp, however, only skims the surface -- faces, buildings, trees and sky, a smile, a shirt collar, a hand grasping a hem.  These freeze-frame moments make little sense without context, without the story that, sadly, sometimes, no one is left to tell.

Even as photos answer questions, new ones spring from them. That which we see before us, seemingly so clearly, we do not always understand.
This presents a challenge when it comes to the memory-keeping process: how do we find the words to say to accompany these photos?

As for me, I cannot separate the photo from my vantage point. I can tell a story or comment on details, but I also know that this story, those details, are rarely objective, impartial. They are always filtered through my perceptions of the past and my place in the present.

Part of the reason why old photos appeal to me is that even as I hold them in my hands, I must accept that which is intangible: the past will always elude me. Even the past that made me.

4 comments:

  1. Love this page!! All of the black really makes everything else pop!!

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  2. So well said. I love the way you write.

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  3. Hello Jill!
    How did you create your black and white word strips? Did you use a typewriter or a computer? I am curious on how to duplicate the white text on black paper.
    Thanks-

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    1. Hi! I'm not sure whether you received my emailed response, so just in case, let me explain the process here. It's really easy! In Word or Photoshop, change the document's background to black (by using the paint bucket tool), and then change the text color to white, and start typing. After printing the page, I trimmed it into strips. You can also change the text to bold to make it really stand out on the black.

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