This series of textile collages began with finding a collection of seemingly random Polaroid images from my late Great Aunt Thelma’s house. As one of the executors of her estate, my father asked me and my mother to help go through her belongings at her small home in Oklahoma. Among our findings were boxes and bags of Polaroids with no context or indication of when or where they were taken. We amused ourselves by trying to come up with stories about them, and at the end of the day, I collected the pictures that would have been discarded.

It was with these images I set out to create new narratives for them through collaged fabrics and embroidery thread. This creative process resulted in a series of imaginative textile collages with newly constructed context for the found images. 

I then responded to these first pieces with a continuation of works that utilized Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 8 camera. At the time, I lived in Japan and began recording my experiences traveling in the country with this contemporary instant camera. As I took the pictures I found parallels between the immediate production of a photographic object and the instantaneous virtual sharing of images through social media.

This project developed into a critique of a modern trend of exhaustively sharing and re-sharing virtually hundreds of images to the point the image doesn’t matter anymore. What takes precedence is the persona created for whomever is sharing the images in question. By taking my own photographs I was able to control the narratives I was creating. With only 10 images per film pack, I worked within limited parameters that forced me to pause and more deeply consider my surroundings.

I further slowed down the creation and story-telling process by working methodically to stitch, bead, felt, and piece together fabrics inspired by the integrated photograph. This meditative process provided an opportunity to consider the past family histories that allowed me to be in that place and time in my life. The work thus became a tribute to the people that came before me and an act of recognition and gratitude toward them.

In this way I intentionally subverted the modern trend of over-sharing and asked the viewer to give full attention to one singular image and the narrative formed around it. It’s my aim to have artists and viewers alike to slow down and consider the preciousness in a moment that is represented through the sacred photographic object. 

~ Diana

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About the author

Diana Pemberton

Diana Ruth is a studio artist practicing a variety of textile techniques such as weaving, felting, embroidery, and dyeing. In this way she engages in historical methods of making that occur someway in...

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