By Jane Waggoner Deschner
Sponsored by Yellowstone Art Museum
TOUR SCHEDULE: 2023 – 2025
1. Gallery of Visual Arts, U of M, Missoula, MT – September 1 – October 27, 2023
2. Waterworks Art Museum, Miles City, MT – June 6 – July 18, 2024
We see our personal truths reflected, through photos and words, in the lives of others. We are reminded, in this divisive age, of our commonalities. – Jane Waggoner Deschner Jane Waggoner Deschner began work on her project, Remember me: a collective narrative in found words and photographs, in 2015, to respond to what she experienced as the “caustic tone arising in our country.” Since then, she has hand-embroidered nearly twelve hundred found family photographs with texts from obituaries written by anonymous family and friends. The photographs span the decades of popular black and white photography, chronicling people, places and times. While studio portraits tend toward intentional self-representation, family snapshots often capture random, unintended elements. Obituaries, written by loved ones, are a form of familial self-representation and collective memory. Their shared anecdotes highlight noteworthy aspects of an individual’s life. The artist carefully pairs each vernacular photo with obituary text written about a different person. “The photos ‘read’ the texts and vice versa, teasing pretension, tragi-comedy and profound truths about the human condition from sentimental artifacts,” Deschner states. “We see our personal truths reflected, through photos and words, in the lives of others.” The immersive installation is both humorous and poignant, weighted by an accumulation of personal stories that span and connect across time and place. The viewer continually shifts their awareness between the facial expressions and vintage styles represented in individual images, the content of the stitched tributes, the details of the stitching, and the overall installation. Accompanied by mid-century furniture, knickknacks, and mounds of found anonymously hand-crocheted doilies and afghans, the installation alludes to the familiar spaces of homes and offices. The repetition of standard frames and hand-stitched texts imposes a formal framework that contains and unites the sentimental artifacts. This accumulation of collected and remixed memories calls attention to the universal aspects of human experience.