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 documentary sponsored by a neighborhood theatre company, which displayed 150 black and white slide dissolve performance, accompanied by 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. However, now her form is submerged in blue pools with unpredictable results.