My Pie Town, 2010
archival inkjet print, 14" x 10.5"
My Pie Town reworks and re-imagines a body of images originally photographed by Russell Lee for the United States Farm Security Administration in 1940. Using Photoshop to modify Lee's pictures, I have created an imaginary, parallel world - a Pie Town populated exclusively by women.
In some of my revisions, I have taken male bodies and rendered them to look like masculine women; in others, I have taken pairs of women, shifted their distance and body language, and brought them closer to create a sense of intimacy. In some of the pictures I have created women so masculine, or so ambiguously gendered, that they may not, for some viewers, clearly read as one gender or the other. I've also left a few images untouched, allowing for another dimension of re-reading Lee's work.
Because the images of Lee's time in Pie Town are available in high resolution form from the Library of Congress, I was able to get close to Lee's images on a pixel level. For me, working with photographs and editing them so closely in Photoshop is a kind of an intimate act. Zooming in and carving a feminine jaw out of a masculine one, or manipulating the touch of one woman's hand on another's shoulder is a way for me to access and merge my desire with figures which would have otherwise remained frozen in time. I've begun to think of Photoshop itself as my medium – I'm fascinated by the fact that it shares qualities with both photography and drawing. This work creates something that reads as a photograph, and is infinitely reproducible like a photograph, but at the same time depends heavily upon the intervention of my hand.