In Collected Works- Volume I: Thirty Years of Photography 1987-2017, artist Deanna Miesch covers a lot of ground, both in time and in physical distance. The three decades worth of images presented here were taken in places as far from each other as the American Southwest and Rome, Italy. Though geographically separated, Miesch connects them through her deeply personal way of seeing.
The images in this book have an intimate and dreamlike quality often associated with memory. As with memory, many of Miesch’s photographs are filled with overlapping images and shadows. The words Miesch types directly onto her photographs mirror this imperfection; individual letters sometimes slip on the page like a mind struggling to place a moment in the past. Miesch embraces these imperfections, making the typewritten words feel as personal as handwriting.
It is worth noting that Miesch used film to create these photographs. The lush colors she achieves with film hint of a loss inside their beauty. Film, like the typewriter, is practically a forgotten tool. This sense of loss is felt most clearly in her images of children, but it also resides in the photographs of the natural world. In this time of rapid environmental change and species extinction, it is hard not to look at these images without a tinge of bereavement. She makes us want to hold onto the beauty.
It is fitting that the cover of the book features Rome’s coliseum. This building stands like a memory to a former time well beyond the scope of any human life. What Miesch offers is decidedly human-scaled, full of shadows and imperfections. The photographs invite us in with their call of intimacy, and taken together, build to something far more expansive than the individual.
Director, Prizer Arts & Letters
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