This is just a sampling of a portrait series by Aline Smithson, a Los Angeles–based fine arts photographer and friend of Purple Clover who recently launched the liveliest Kickstarter campaign we've seen this month. (OK, we don't see that many, but Smithson's video is definitely worth checking out. To watch it, click here.)
Getting in Costume
"I love Halloween. I love masks and capes and things that are odd and a little bit creepy … and I love bad TV and good books,' Smithson says in her Kickstarter video, which seeks funding for "Self and Others: Portrait as Autobiography," to be published in the fall by the nonprofit Magenta Foundation.
Stories We Tell
"But most of all, I love to tell stories without giving away the ending."
Celebrating the Subject
"I create work close to home, using subjects that are family, friends, neighbors and friends of friends. That familiarity with place and person allows for an intimacy and camaraderie where my sitters trust in my desire to present them with dignity or with humor, but always in a way that celebrates who they are."
Beyond the Surface
"I tend to isolate subject matter and look for complexity in simple images, providing an opportunity for telling a story in which all is not what it appears."
Tapping a Memory
"I want to create photographs that evoke a universal memory."
Humor in Aging
"Photography allows me to find beauty in the mundane, joy in the everyday life, humor in aging and the ability to examine a deeper self."
Now for the Backstory
On her website, Smithson recalls the origin of these portraits:
"This series had serendipitous beginnings. I found a small print of Whistler's painting 'Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother' at a neighborhood garage sale."
"The same weekend, I found a leopard coat and hat, a 1950s cat painting, and what looked like the exact chair from Whistler's painting."
The Nature of Details
"That started me thinking about the idea of portraiture, the strong compositional relationships going on within Whistler's painting and the evocative nature of unassuming details."
The Richness of Painting
"The series incorporates traditional photography techniques, yet becomes richer with the treatment of hand-painting."
"It is my intent to have the viewer see the work in a historical context with the addition of color, and at the same time, experience Whistler's simple, yet brilliant formula for the composition."
A Beloved Subject
"My patient 85-year-old mother posed in over 20 ensembles, but unfortunately passed away before seeing the finished series."
"I am grateful for her sense of humor and the time this series allowed us to be together."
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