I use the camera as a means to understand the world around us and to explore spatial environments and encounters. My work usually emerges from a conceptual rule-based frame work and rarely includes people. However, a few years after my grandmother passed away, I spent two weeks at her house in New Hampshire where I had spent my childhood summers just the two of us. During my time there, I thought often about how people shape and define space and how we associate places with people. Looking through projects such as Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street, Alec Soth’s Niagara, or Chan Chao’s Burma: Something Went Wrong, one can’t help but allow the portraits to influence our impressions of these places. But what happens when the people who give meaning to a place are gone? How do you capture someone whose presence is felt despite being physically absent? Drawing from various metaphors for trees representing family and using the tropes of contemporary portrait photography, I set out to photograph the various trees on her property.
— Alexandra Silverthorne, Washington, DC, USA