Don’t ask how, but I convinced the amazing Dan Estabrook to let me use one of his pieces on the cover of Myrna Dey’s first novel. Dan is based out of Brooklyn and exhibits in real cities like New York, Chicago and… Atlanta. He uses nineteenth-century photographic techniques to make contemporary art, working with hand-altered calotypes and salt prints. The piece I’ve absconded with is a mounted toned silver print called “Untitled Twins, 1992”.
Extensions tells the story of a woman who is uncovering information about her ancestors, and the impact that these bits of lost history have on her life. She makes the chance discovery of a sepia photograph of her grandmother and twin sister, in the hands of a stranger. So she decides to find out how a picture taken in 1914 in the mining town of Extension, BC ended up at a garage sale in small-town Saskatchewan almost 100 years later.
This artwork resonates perfectly with Myrna’s words, from the scissors right down to the teardrop stains on the green matte board.
I continued the scissor motif from Dan’s image throughout the book on the chapter title pages, losing count after about chapter 30:
I was originally hoping to employ an image by local photographer Eleanor Lazare, from her series My Aunt Molly’s Shoes. She projected old photos of her mother and grandmother on the wall, and then took a photo of herself standing in front of the screen. The construction of the series compliments the concept of the book perfectly by showing three generations of women and — quite literally — a reflection of the past onto the present:
Both artists are using historic photos in a contemporary way. Unfortunately, Eleanor’s images don’t accurately represent the genre. They suggest memoir or non-fiction by fixing the people in photos as characters in the book. The author requested that readers be free to invent their own visions of the characters. (I’m hoping to find a better literary fit for Eleanor’s work because I’m just in love with the series.)