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Colleen Graves

Colleen Graves, Alleyway Crime Scene, 2001
Courtesy of Gray Matters Gallery
A fascination with historical taboo and an obsession with process dictate inspiration for my creations. Crime Scenes emulates the style of 1940s newspaper images. Newspaper workers often took photographs of empty scenes and drew in "perpetrators." The photos themselves are extremely calm with no interference; the additions of cutouts seem odd.

In 2000, I became Annie Oakley, wearing similar clothes, holding a shotgun and emulating her attitude. The process and media I chose for part of this series, liquid emulsion on intimate, canvas bags, evoke the petite size of Annie. The works' small size reminds me of a carte de visite, lending an ease to viewing and handling. These images reflect the larger-than-life attitude she portrayed in her performances. The series Annie Oakley is the ultimate dedication to her.

While researching the Annie Oakley portraits, I discovered the nineteenth century process of ferrotype that was often used for the practice of photographing deceased loved ones. These photos were taken before the family member was buried because a photograph of them dead was better than no picture at all. Death Portraits imitates this style, but I wanted to transfer the discomfort of this series from human form into a spatial form.


Finding spaces that make me uncomfortable helped to compound the eeriness of vacant space and the haunting idea of death. The Park is the first in a series called Haunted Spaces. These spaces are places where you can feel that something bad has happened. When you go near a haunted space, you can feel a chill. Haunted Spaces are simply a recording of the space - sometimes prior to the act and sometimes after. These spaces leave me with the lingering idea of death and disease that are prevalent in my subconscious and unconscious my thoughts.

Colleen Graves 2004

Colleen Graves is represented by Gray Matters Gallery, Dallas