As an artist, my goal is to recognize a pattern in every one of my subjects that reflects the essence of how they interact with the world.
I work with analog large format. It requires that I slow down and take time to get to know my subjects. When I am working, time slows down.
The world narrows to just me, my subject, and the camera. I use this to explore my subject until I discover the pattern they use to interact with their world. That feeling, my response to time slowing down, travels with me to the darkroom. The darkroom becomes a meditative environment. The images that emerge are windows into that experience. I share those windows with viewers in hidden hope that they too can recognize these windows, and share the experience of the suspension of time. Analog is my tool, allowing me to connect with my photographs and subjects in more profound ways than digitally.
I began taking photographs in my high school darkroom, focusing on creating images of abandoned buildings and places. I wanted, both then and now, to bring focus to the forgotten place, to illuminate what was left behind. My focus expanded during my years at university, and I realized that in photographing these places, I was actually photographing myself. However, in some ways, I was hiding from direct confrontation. I delved into the realm of self-portraiture for my senior thesis project. This took many steps, transforming through many stages, ranging from setting up shoots in abandoned buildings throughout New Mexico, to photographing my house from the inside, to finally creating simple self portraits of myself confronting memories of things that affected me negatively as I was a child.
The images in Reveal are windows into who I am as a person and an artist. They are my confrontation and acceptance of my past and my current relationship with the people who abused me. While the actual process of creating the images for Reveal was therapeutic for me, what happens when they are viewed on the wall moves the process into another realm. The photographs in Reveal have affected everyone who has viewed them in some way; I force my audience to confront their own image by hanging a mirror in the middle of my photographs. I produce images that are both intensely personal and global; images that resonate with those who choose to look through their own inner window.
© Cheye Pagel 2013
All Images © Cheye Pagel