Photographs of loved ones are tantalizing because they promise to give you something, but the more you look at them, the less they deliver. They intensify a feeling of wanting to be connected, but cannot satisfy it. In this project, I am trying less to capture a specific memory of someone, than the process of forgetting that person.
The Alice project originated with a trove of photographs and a cache of poems that I inherited from my late aunt, the last living relative of my parents' generation. My reclusive aunt was the family archivist who saved photographs and material objects from past generations. The archive of photographs goes back to the turn of the last century. Studio photographs are mixed in with snapshots, many are of people I never met, but even those I knew are like ghosts from another era.
This suite of Al & Alice Portraits are appropriated from hand tinted studio photographs and photo booth prints. These images were ubiquitous in their time and are a reflection of the period in terms of pose, hairstyles, and other gender tropes, as well as mid-century photographic processes. I am re-photographing and re-imagining these intimate, pocket photos and creating large-scale portraits, imbued with the softness and loss of detail that comes with one’s recollection of the past and the passage of time.
Jean Sousa received her BFA from the University of Massachusetts and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Ms. Sousa was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome in 2014 and 2017. She has received numerous grants and fellowships including two artist fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and a Regional Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional awards include a residency at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Cliff Dwellers Award for Artist Residency at Ragdale, a Professional Artist in Residence at Oxbow in Saugatuck, Michigan, and a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland. Sousa has taught at SAIC, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at the MIT Summer Institute for Film, Photography, and Video at Hampshire College.
Ms. Sousa works primarily in photography and film and her work has been in exhibitions at the Southeast Museum of Photography, San Francisco Camerawork, the Union League Club of Chicago, the Illinois State Museum, Chicago Gallery, the Hunter Museum of American Art, and the Rockford Art Museum among other venues. Her films have been screened at Anthology Film Archives in New York, the London Filmmakers Cooperative, Collectif Jeune Cinéma in Paris, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Cinematheque in San Francisco, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Her experimental films are in the Canyon Cinema Foundation Collection and are currently part of their 50th Anniversary Touring Program.
Ms. Sousa was the Director of Interpretive Exhibitions, Family and Community Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) where she curated installations incorporating the AIC collection in interactive learning environments. She is the author of Faces, Places, & Inner Spaces, a book for young readers about looking at art that was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. Ms. Sousa received the 2003 Excellence in Practice Award and the Excellence in Publication Award from the American Association of Museums (AAM). Ms. Sousa was the executive producer of the interactive computer program and CD-ROM Telling Images: Stories in Art which received the 1997 Silver Muse Award from the AAM. Additional professional activities include presentations as Chair and panelist at numerous national and international conferences including the AAM, the National Art Education Association, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and the National Gallery of Ireland.
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