Diaries of an Enlistment In Diaries of an Enlistment, 2003–2004, Elizabeth Mellot-Carreón has personalized the effects of war by presenting communications exchanged between a newlywed couple during long periods of separation.
Akin to jewelry boxes, the clay containers hold beloved keepsakes commemorating extended moments in time, fetish objects that were made or collected separately by each lover. United in a tiny shared physical and psychological space, they mark time, serving to honor and remember the other, to kindle desire, and to nurture a precious spiritual connection.
Presented on spotless antimacassars, reminiscent of lacy coffin linens, the small clay tombs hold and protect the cherished items within; their dark serenity suggests rows of caskets holding the bodies of returning soldiers.
Her interpretation of the violence of war is an intimate meditation on the emotional effects of prolonged separation for a husband and wife. Violence here is psychological. It comes in the form of the love, loneliness, longing, and fear felt by two people, a timeless violence conveyed as a visual elegy with the nostalgic stillness of a Civil War daguerreotype.
One Day Maneuvering through the installation, the viewer is forced to acknowledge this type of violence, but it is through the viewer’s scrutiny of the figures that the whole truth is revealed. Alone, the viewer notices the crowded “emptiness” of the installation amidst the unforgiving, disfigured female forms. Tackling this social taboo of violence directed towards women, One Day forces us to face the appalling number of rapes in our society.
Excerpt from her essay in the FOTOFEST2006 catalogue.
ELIZABETH MELLOTT-CARREÒN Diaries of an Enlistment and One Day
Diary of an Enlistment speaks of the frustrations, loneliness, devotion and mystery that are embedded in Mellot-Carreòn’s marriage to a combat soldier. Her husband was trained in seclusion and then deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The installation contains thirteen clay boxes that represent one-month time segments of her relationship. Each box contains items that range from hand made books, dried flowers, and photographs that represent “the surreal experience of heightened tensions, emotions, and numbness of this period.”
One Day addresses the issue of the statistical number of women who are reportedraped every day in the United States. The project contains 720, the number of women raped in one day, individually cast paper female figures that are embedded with a variety of unique objects. The figures were placed on the floor and suspended from the ceilings, with images of women’s silhouettes projected onto the entire installation. As the viewer enters the installation, they become part of it by interrupting the shadows.
Elizabeth Mellott-Carreón studied at Texas Women’s University and the University of North Texas, both in Denton. She holds a M.F.A. in photography with studies in book arts. Currently, she is a professor of photography at Collin County Community College in Plano, Texas, teaching traditional and alternative photography.
As an artist, Mellott-Carreón crosses boundaries constantly. The majority of her work is alternative and/or sculptural, with an emphasis on photography. The art is emotionally charged, addressing personal concerns and social issues around specific moments. The works recreate scenes with photography and other processes, capturing a personal and constructed view of the world that also engages with issues of common concern.
For Mellott-Carreón, art is a means of expression and documentation, a way to communicate with others about pressing issues of contemporary life.