٠ ‘Am I Nothing But Black?’ ٠

2008_8© Myra Greene, from the series Character Recognition, 2005-08. Ambrotype on Black glass, 3 by 4 inches.

2008_11© Myra Greene, from the series Character Recognition, 2005-08. Ambrotype on Black glass, 3 by 4 inches.

Myra_Greene_06© Myra Greene, from the series Character Recognition, 2005-08. Ambrotype on Black glass, 3 by 4 inches.

profile_norm© Myra Greene, from the series Character Recognition, 2005-08. Ambrotype on Black glass, 3 by 4 inches.

myra greene© Myra Greene, from the series Character Recognition, 2005-08. Ambrotype on Black glass, 3 by 4 inches.

“In Character Recognition, artist Myra Greene explores issues of the Female body, historical trauma and dismemberment and the healing power of memory. By using the antique photo process called wet collodion these pieces evoke a forgone era where slavery and colonialism reigned.

Introduced in the 1850’s, a glass plate was coated with collodion and then sensitized by dipping it into a bath of silver nitrate, while still wet the plate was placed in the camera and an exposure was made. The plate was then immediately developed, while still wet, to form the negative. In this work Myra has replaced the traditional transparent glass with black glass creating a unique positive image.

It is no coincidence that the five senses are represented here. This is meant to be a sensory experience. The most potent triggers of memories can be as subtle as smell, taste, sound, sight and touch. They take us inward on an excavation of shared histories/ memories. These are sites without artifacts only the stories etched in the DNA of our grandmothers. Make no mistake, Character Recognition is not meant to speak for any particular race, gender, or generation. This is a specific tale one that seeks a re/ memory, a re/ turn, a re/ telling, and re/knowing in the work of Myra Greene.

These images, however reminiscent, are not merely rooted in the pre-Civil War portraits of the enslaved and colonized. They are as current as the faces of the women of Darfur and Rwanda, the dismemberment as fresh as the missing limbs in Sierra Leone. They are as dark as the faces of the displaced in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. However there is a reluctant beauty to these self-portraits, to these fragments. The full lips, the teeth, the eyes, the nose and the ears are isolated and seemingly dismembered from the rest of the body. Dark and lush they are a re/clamation, a re/membering and a re/ cognition born of a re-memory.”

essay by Deborah Jack

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