Family portraiture weaves its way through our daily lives, encased in a wedding family album, a sacred box, a mouse pad, or the back pocket of a pair of jeans. It may inhabit a death portrait or a sonogram. Laced with a myriad of shifting projected recollections, it traffics innocence and desire, nightmare memories, sentimentality, alienation, connection.
Family photographs enable the reconstruction of personal memories, facilitating connections and disruptions in the search for intimacy and familial identity. Beneath the surface of the family frame, past the sacred precinct of seemingly impenetrable facade, and into the zone of the frozen past, the fluidity of memory subordinates ritual to construct its own mythology.
For my childhood friend, Piedmont Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, family is her heart’s work. We began our collaborative journey as seasoned artists while she was working on the poem, i want to undie you, after the loss of her daughter Imani to cancer.
The series of images in Visitations, Portraits for Imani is the result of a yearlong project where together we scoured the family archives, the snaps and snippets of Imani’s life as photographed by family and friends, 30 years from birth to deathbed. From music, words and images, this work is a response to loss and a celebration of life, though the aesthetics of light and shadow, doors and cobwebs, and objects symbolic of transitions and memories, of loss and love, about the heart work of parenting.
Barbara Tyroler is a practicing artist, educator, and photographer. She focuses on abstracted environmental portraiture emphasizing family, relationships, and issues of identity. Barbara’s work explores how the lens inspires the journey, how the photographic image evokes and conveys meaning, creating and recreating stories and memories beyond the frame. “I pursue projects that embrace the collaborative process, partnering with those who enjoy working together to make a difference through community engagement.”
With an MFA in digital art and a M.Ed. in education, Tyroler served on the University of Maryland art department teaching staff. She occasionally teaches creative documentary portraiture at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies. As founder and director of the University of Maryland Photographic Arts Outreach Program, and co-founders of PhotoWeekDC and FRANK:inFocus of CLICK! Triangle Photo festivals, Tyroler has written over 30 visual arts and community education grants to promote multicultural and inclusive art experiences. Her photography is in numerous public and private collections in the NC Triangle and DC metro area.
"Barbara Tyroler, a photographer and educator of uncommon talent, pushes the boundaries of photographic imagery while also employing a wealth of creative techniques that are both sensuous and ethereal." Washington Post Photography Columnist Frank Van Riper