The Preservation of Heritage

Undergraduate Thesis,

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) 2009

Small Collage Works

While living at home I did a lot of my work in the basement of my parents house where I had a makeshift studio. While down there, rummaging around for materials, I found some deteriorating photo albums from my father’s family. In looking at the faces in the photos, some of whom I recognized, most of whom I didn’t, I began to think about memory, heritage and the dissemblance between us. It’s simultaneously my family’s history, and not my history. I enjoyed making up micro narratives for each image and giving them a new story. I found it interesting to keep the origins ambiguous or to make them even more obscure, simultaneously destroying and preserving these images.

The Preservation, Hand-bound collage book 2008

From those small collages, I went on to thinking about how to create more intimacy and how to integrate my process conceptually. I created The Preservation during my senior year in a bookbinding class utilizing various methods of image capture and preservation.

 

I was thinking about photography as a way to archive personal narrative and the album as a method of storytelling, I used this book as a way to both preserve images and objects. I was also beginning to think about reproduction, copying, printing and creating a lexicon of shapes, motifs and icons that could be reproduced in other works or used in different applications. What those reproductions lose or add to the source object and the value of the source object after that. Creating and assembling the book was also a non-linear and organic process.

 

I reference naturalist preservation of organic samples to mirror memory as a living entity. In using found organic material, this work is also ironically non archival in that elements do change over time. Some of the smells of the pressed flowers or old papers remain, but the colors have shifted, things have become more fragile. This is a living body of work and it changes when I visit it again after a few months or years. I’m interested in that melancholy push & pull of simultaneously wanting to preserve something and watching it erode.

© 2019 by Cristina Ferrigno.