About the Work
Science tells us there is no such thing as an absolute truth and uses theories from physics to demonstrate the general relativity of everything that exists. Pundits also tell us that truth is relative, that everything we internalize as truth is unreliable because it is filtered and skewed through our own frame of reference. Nonetheless, I believe there is a knowable and absolute truth about who each of us are. I hold fast to the idea that there is a basic core of identity that determines our beliefs and directs our actions.
My quest is to understand that sense of self that provides personal continuity across time, place and situation. The photographic image is used in service of externalizing questions of how attachment to place, genetics and experience inform who we believe ourselves to be. The red thread interwoven between and throughout my work is the breaking down of personal history and experience, into its smallest parts to allow for examination.
Central to my practice is the process of altering a photograph both by hand and computer, turning each photograph into a unique image that still maintains a core identity across iterations. Images are degraded, combined and reconstructed. Digital images are combined with found materials, personal writing and drawing. I embed my self into photographs through sewing, sanding and collage. In some series, the hand work is done before the image is made by constructing a table top scene to be photographed. These combined acts of hand alteration and digital manipulation mirror my intention of showing the affects of time, place and personal history on identity.
About the Artist
Michelle Saffran, a photographer, educator and maker of books, lives in rural Vermont.
She earned a MFA from Lesley University of Art and Design (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and holds a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and a BA from Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan).
A consistent thread running through all of Saffran's work is a visual narrative that hints at the sociological and psychological insight into the ways autobiographical history, memory and experience affect identity.
Saffran is the recipient of the Artist Creation Grant and Artist Development Grants from the Vermont Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts and a Vermont Community Foundation Grant. Her work is included in private and public collections across the United States, Mexico and Australia.
Born in Detroit, Michigan Saffran's identity is strongly tied to her early developmental years as a blue collared daughter of the auto industry.