Paula Siwek Artist Statement

My approach to photography comes from the various styles and practices of my

teachers and peers, influences from my family of writers and movie-makers, and a

curiosity about the "otherness" of reality. As a teenager home life was volatile. My

escape and response was to imagine another reality, not in movies or writing but

photography. My father, a photographer of his world travels bought me my first

camera. In college, I photographed at night using blur for dreamlike moods,

juxtaposing motion and clarity at once – looking at a multi-leveled duality, and I

had fun in the night time setting up the camera and manipulating motion with

timed exposures. Back home the 1980's in I spent years doing street photography

and created Made in Brooklyn while in graduate school at Pratt Institute, a series of

portraits and street scenes around the surrounding neighborhoods. My street

photographs led to the Initiation Series photographs where I combined shadow

figures with mixed media and text layered in the darkroom, image transfer and

collage related to ancient Dionysian cults specifically, the Villa of Mysteries. From a

single photographic statement, expanded the image in both Initiation Series, added

shape & multiple photographs into larger sized works, expanding out of the image

borders and into diptych. The clothed female figures, as the shadows, are in various

stages of change; memory, a psychological, sexual, emotional, spiritual observations

using foreground and background. Made in Brooklyn evolved into a

performance 
sponsored by a neighborhood theatre company, projecting 150 of the

images in sequence with the performance of a scared-straight poem, “Letter in Lady

Day Spring Tones,” delivered by ex-convicts. In my most recent project, Water, I

return to my earliest phase of photo- making. Using varied time exposures and

color film, I once again document the female figure. Now underwater, her form is

submerged, in blue pools with unpredictable results.