Re-Imaging the Past II is an ongoing series, exploring the Art Deco era within New York, specifically Buffalo, in the 1920s and ‘30s. The photo series investigates female-dominated narratives of fictionalized characters going through the chronicles of everyday life during this period. The Art Deco period emitted a magical era of cinema, architecture, fashion, and the “morals of immorality.” I desire to create cinematic imagery from a female gaze that truly questions, examines, and recontextualizes the role of the female within this time period – as well as investigates the unique and individualized non-specific narrative of each imagined character. Often, the cinema of this era portrayed the female as a femme fatale, vain woman, hopeless romantic, helpless, and an inability to control their emotions. These portrayals of women within literature, cinema, and art were predominantly from a male point of view. This series aims to portray these female characters as something more than just a beautiful asset to a male-centric history, but rather a vital, substantial part of this beautiful era.  

Through a combination of portraits, still-lives, and cinemagraphs - the viewer is drawn in and encapsulated in this oeuvre of fictionalized, Art Deco-era inspired narratives. The intent is for viewers to want to get behind the facade of these women and ask: who was she? Why is she here? What does she want? The images aim to go beyond a tableau vivant-like picture, and call for the viewer to truly engage with this time-specific narrative.  

The imagery focuses on the daily life of these women within the common, quintessential American spaces such as lobbies, train stations, streets, suburban homes, and more. The oeuvre of images evoke ideas from Edward Hopper’s cinematic portrayals of human melancholy within prototypical American, urban sites. 

Re-Imaging the Past II was initially inspired by Cindy Sherman’s photograph Untitled Film Stills #21 from her series Untitled Film Stills. Sherman explores the female heroine in these time specific periods as she is often creating mysterious, unfinished narratives within each image. Untitled Film Stills often focus on the before and after, and leave the viewer questioning the reasoning behind each image. Re-Imaging the Past II in a way is a reaction to the stereotypical depiction of the female heroine Sherman presents within her single image stills. My series focuses on the development and relationship of the characters through multiple photographs that creates meaning to these fictionalized figures. 

The heart of the narrative, the beginning and the ending, takes place in the grand lobby of 69 Delaware within Buffalo - built during the roaring 20s. It is where each characters’ story begins. Each female figure is waiting within this lobby for different reasons. This photo narrative aims to investigate these different figures within the lobby, and explore their “stories” through enticing, encaptivating imagery that gives these characters multiple layers. 

I want to show different stages of these existential crises, problems, and emotions of these figures. I am hoping viewers re-image and reimagine these female figures as I place a contemporary viewpoint on these fictionalized characters within the 1920s and ‘30s.