through the lens of desire
June 15 – August 25, 2016
In our modern world, identity is everything. We thirst for organized nomenclature and merited affiliation within groups of our own society. Not only the desire but the need to belong to a group is almost universally seen in civilizations around the world. Through the Lens of Desire, artist Kris Sanford challenges viewers to find their own sense of belonging in the world by focusing on universal relationships between two people that are photographed together and understanding the significance of the relationships we all share.
In this series, her work aims to explicitly focus on the fictionalization of the collection of photographs. The idea for this series began after Sanford was gifted a collection of old photographs from her grandmother. Finding an image of her grandmother and a friend pictured at a costume party with one wearing a sailor’s outfit and the other a wedding dress, Kris imagined their real wedding and thus began her storytelling journey. Deeply influenced by the intimate connections personified in Lady Clementina Hawarden, a noted photographer of the Victorian Era as well as the subject matter and style of lesbian painter Romaine Brooks, Sanford began investigating and imagining LGBT relationships first through old family photographs, and then to a larger selection of images she gathered.
Using vernacular photographs from the 1920s-1950s, Sanford re-contextualized these photographs to explore fictional same-sex narratives of past relationships through subtle moments of intimacy in scenes strategically chosen and cropped to picture each duo. She deliberately excludes the faces of each subject in order to transform them into fictional characters that represent imaginary stories of gay couples. Sanford’s work leaves the viewer with admirable messages of strength, love, belonging, and then explores the intimacy that same-sex people share whether they are sexually involved or not, themes that still remain taboo in our larger human community.
Kris Sanford was born in southeast Michigan, Kris Sanford first began her artistic career after she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in 2000. After completing her undergraduate studies with honors, she continued her education at Arizona State University receiving a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography in 2005. In 2010, Kris was awarded a Contemporary Artist Grant from the Phoenix Art Museum and was later selected by the Phoenix Public Art Program to show her work at the 2011 installment of the 7th Avenue Streetscape Panels. Sanford’s work has been showcased nationally in several exhibitions and most recently was exhibited at Tilt Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Out Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She was selected in 2015 as a finalist for the Lensculture Exposure Awards and her work has been featured in a number of publications such as The Hand Magazine, Fraction Magazine and Java Magazine. In 2016, Sanford was awarded First Place winner of the Juror Award at the Crooked Tree Arts Center during the 35th Annual Juried Photography Exhibition in Petoskey, Michigan. Sanford has taught photography classes at several institutions including Arizona State University and currently works as an assistant professor at Central Michigan University.