Katie Doyle, our 2012 Winter Featured Artist, first exhibited in The Kiernan Gallery in our Family Dynamics show in February of 2012. Her image, entitled “Becky’s Bedroom,” was selected as the Director’s Choice winner. At the time, Doyle’s image was part of a larger series that documented the home life of her sister Becky as she raised her five children. Doyle was compelled to makes these images because she wanted to capture the closeness she felt to her sister and her family. Doyle and her sister talked to each other about how easily they could swap life roles. She stated that, “In some ways I thought of the portraits of Becky and her family as self-portraits.”
As the project developed, it evolved from its documentary roots into something more complex. Expanding away from a strict documentary format, Doyle began incorporating symbolism from her family’s Catholic background in her images, creating compositions that spoke to the intersections of tradition, family, and faith. The finished product of Allusion reflects this shift of focus.
I began to think about the idea of family identity and history as something to follow, with the Catholic religion as a core theme to guide my thinking. I recognize that not everyone practices Catholicism, and yet many of its themes and visual tropes are mostly recognizable because of its permeating influence throughout culture and art history. Instead of photographing my sister as herself, I began cultivating the idea of having her represent Mary in the images. In religious artwork, Mary is portrayed in a wide variety of ways, though in the work she is always recognizable as the mother of Jesus. I am interested more in this idea of Mary as a universal mother . . . .
Doyle also sought to present commentary on motherhood, families, and her family’s faith by invoking historical catholic imagery. “Its influence is there to be recognized – in how Becky or her children are posed or in the Renaissance-style light and color of the photographs.”
Adding to the complexity of her exploration of family, Doyle is herself expecting. Due in May, she is looking forward not only to being a mother, but also the influence this will have on her photography. While she expects that her work will head in a new direction, the theme of motherhood will still be central to her artwork. She would like to begin to incorporate herself into her images, capturing her body, life, and perspective as they rapidly change. “I like the idea of the unpredictable total life change that a child can bring about (a change that so far, I have only been a voyeur to) acting as a guide for new photographic work to come.”
We are excited for Doyle’s approaching motherhood, and eager to see where it will take her photography.
Allusion is on view through January 26, 2013.