Away From Her Nest

Photographs by Lindsey Filowitz
Interview via emails, May 2017

Select images from her series The Likeness

Where were these images made, where were you in your life when you made these images?

Most of these images were made on my road trip that started in New York, went down the bible belt, over through the Southwest, and up again towards my current home: The Bay Area.  I spent good chunks of time in North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and of course, California. It was an extremely transitional phase in my life - I had just finished college, and was embarking in a journey that would put me in a place unknown physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. I was that bird flying away from her nest for the very first time. 

What did you notice that compelled you to explore this subject matter?

I've always been interested in transformation - it's the theme that connects all of my bodies of work. Religion in particular is something that I know has the power to change people, to make them feel certain ways - enlightened, holy, righteous . I didn't really get it, but I wanted to. I yearned to understand how it was that this idea, this intangible feeling, or belief, could change lives. Most difficult yet - I knew it was all based on something invisible. It was a test to my photography practice to try and document something that wasn't there.

Thus, I wondered, how is god represented? I found that god and religion are illustrated in this worldly way, despite being metaphysical in nature. Common imagery was the obvious temple and icon of cross, but I also found a lot hands, light, fruit, wine, cups - all Earthly objects, because humans can only imagine what they know.

The bible belt is interesting because it is a very simplified version of the frightening Catholic imagery that I grew up with. I have memories of going into these cold marble cathedrals as a child, very frightened of the bleeding larger-than-life statues of Jesus nailed to the cross. The Christian churches I encountered on the road trip were so plain compared to the lavish decadence of religion's antiquarian aesthetic.

What was important about including different types of media (photographs, scans, etc.) into your edit?

In addition to my own view, I really wanted to explore how other people saw and understood Christianity. The photographs were what I took away, but the imagery and text from the pamphlets are the ways in which others expressed their ideas of who and what god is. Since I didn't have such a strong affiliation with religion as it was, I didn't feel that I had the complete right to step into that world and present my opinion.

In what ways did working through this idea impact your later projects?

This project extended my interest in scanning text and creating imagery that way. I like the texture of paper and the colored dots from halftone reproduction. I'm currently finishing up a project about the beginning and end of a relationship. Love letters and notes are a key element throughout the narrative. I use the scanned text to make the work feel more personal.