Close To Home

Happy families are all alike;
every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

My goal in Close to Home is to break through easy assumptions and present a constellation of three families in all their complexities.

Almost twenty years ago, new to photography, my interest in the family as subject began with the large format portraits by Tina Barney of her upper class family. But for stylistic approach, it was two British artists photographing their working class neighbors and families that captured my imagination: Nick Waplington The Living Room (1991) and Richard Billingham Ray’s a Laugh” (1996).  Soon thereafter I initiated Close to Home, a series of photographs of three middle class families related to me and to one another by birth or marriage.

Working in collaboration with my interconnected families - a multi-dimensional stew of cultures - I photograph the quotidian of their lives. As relationships form, adults age, babies are born, children develop, illness strikes, divorce looms, relocations occur – several times each year I am there, a seen but unobtrusive presence. Most often I work with one family at one time but when members of two or three of the families are together, I photograph their connections.

As a portfolio or exhibition, the prints can only hint at the multiple threads of narrative. As an extended series, with images made over the years, each family’s story is more fully suggested. By adding their voices as text or audio my goal for Close to Home will be most closely realized. For this reason, beyond the photographs, themselves, I have begun the process of expanding this project into multi-media and book/assemblage formats.



Laura Wolfe

Alan Strassman

Christy Stadelmaier

Ellen Toby Slotnick

Dianne Schaefer

Alice Shafer

Andrea Rosenthal

Linda Rogers

Richard Perry

Jane Paradise

Trelawney Goodell

Anne Diamond McNevin

Diane Davies

Nan Collins

Bob Avakian


Karen Davis

Course Assistant

Meg Birnbaum



Griffin Museum

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