In October 1996 I got an idea for a photograph, inspired by Halloween iconography. I, being the model and art director, decided to hire a photographer to take my photograph. The resulting photo was the first of a series of (now) 100 plus images, where I have subverted the cultural hype and commercialism that fuels traditional American holiday cards by making my own holiday images.
I have been making art professionally since 1984, when, as a graduate art student, having taken a single black and white photography class, I was given the amazing opportunity to produce the hand colored photographs for U-Haul Co.ís nationally distributed company calendar. As a student, then as a fine artist, I have constantly documented art work, installations, and performances- mine and other artists- initially with film and now digitally. In other words, though I have earned my living primarily by being a muralist and arts educator, I have consistently been practicing photography. 32 years of using a camera to capture a specific moment infiltrates my consciousness and vision the same way that figures, fonts and patterns eventually inform my mural projects-my imagination translates concepts into images. My murals are community oriented or theme driven, not personal. My paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs reflect pop culture, and my idiosyncratic feelings about being a person in this culture.
I began the cards with a funny idea and the impulse to undermine the commercialized promotional elements that make up our experience of American holidays. The artistic innovation of this series lies in the artistically subversive motive, the longevity of the project, and the public ìart for arts sakeî commitment to making and giving away quality limited edition prints that combine low brow and fine art elements of nude female modeling, self portraiture, documented performance art, allusions to contemporary issues, and traditional holiday-specific iconography. The process is collaborative, requiring scheduling of assistants, the photographer, securing the lighting, location and props as determined by the concept. I retain creative control by funding and producing the shoots, choosing the final image and the text that accompanies the image, signing and numbering the set prior to sending them out. Paradoxically, immobilized as I am, being the model, I must trust the cameraperson to actually follow my direction and sketches in taking the shot, much like the director who acts in their own movie. The challenge is to come up with yet another variation on a clichÈ theme, and have the image be seductive (or very silly) and accessible enough that open-minded people will smile and display the cards.
THE ULTIMATE VISION
The 4îx8î photo format, with a custom greeting, printed in limited edition, and sent through the mail has been the most potent vehicle for these photos.
It is our intention to broaden the appreciation and exposure of these cards beyond the refrigerators and scrap books they currently adorn, and enable those many people who ARE aficionados to acquire editions from the series.
I have never seen such an extended series, consistently produced and distributed for so long, in a medium that is fast becoming an anachronistic form of communication- genuine mail art.
This public is the target of the ìHolidayî commercialism that inspired me in the first place. In line with the 21st century ethos of self promotion, self representation, and the favorable economics of DIY product creation, I believe the time is now to collect and preserve this archive of alternative photography.
I believe that the ìHolidaze cardî series is an artist innovation that needs to be made available to the wider public, not just my friends and collectors. (Sending paper, through the mail is not only increasingly expensive, it has negative ecological implications.)
To this end, I intend to publish the entire catalogue of card images, with commentary, as a book form available in hard copy or ìe-bookî format. I have created cards for 7-9 holidays a year, from 1996 through to the presentÖin 2014 it will be 19 years!! I feel that the self-publishing/distribution venues available now- printed on demand, a/o availability as digital only format modes, internet distribution channels- these are the ìprinting innovationsî that makes this dream of mine do-able, right now.