Remember Me. Jane Waggoner Deschner
A family photo, the obituary — these record and form a life’s memories.
We see our personal truths reflected, through photos and words, in the lives of others.
We are reminded, in this acrimonious age, of our commonalities.I began work on the project, Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photographs, in 2015, to respond to what I experienced as the “caustic tone arising in our country.” Since then, I have hand-embroidered nearly twelve hundred found family photographs with texts from obituaries written by anonymous family and friends.
The photographs span the decades of popular black and white photography, chronicling people, places and times. While studio portraits tend toward intentional self-representation, family snapshots often capture random, unintended elements. Obituaries, written by loved ones, are a form of familial self-representation and collective memory. Their shared anecdotes highlight noteworthy aspects of an individual’s life.
I carefully pair each vernacular photo with obituary text written about a different person. The photos ‘read’ the texts and vice versa, teasing pretension, tragi-comedy and profound truths about the human condition from sentimental artifacts. The effect is both humorous and poignant, weighted by an accumulation of personal stories that span and connect across time and place. The viewer continually shifts their awareness between the facial expressions and vintage styles represented in individual images, the content of the stitched tributes, the details of the stitching, and the overall installation.
This accumulation of collected and remixed memories calls attention to the universal aspects of human experience. The nostalgia evoked creates positive feelings and promotes social connectedness.