Karla Griffin, Piano, 2010. Colour Photograph

Artists by Artists: Jennifer Crane and Karla Griffin

Coming and Going
September 30, 2011 to January 12, 2012

Coming and Going explores the ever-shifting relationships among people, places and objects, in connection with the notion of home as a construct of personal desire. Artists Jennifer Crane and Karla Griffin navigate both the private and public aspects of the domestic sphere in an attempt to capture the traces of human actions and experience. Focusing on empty interior spaces and abandoned household objects, these artists draw attention to the narrative and theatrical possibilities offered by their subject matter. Narrative is mainly evoked through an absence in the space or of the objects — as in a blank wall without pictures, or furniture without walls. Crane’s interiors reference the absent occupant while Griffin’s work points to the absence of a home and the actions of absent individuals.

In her daily travels through the urban landscape, Griffin has surveyed these tableaux-like scenes in storefront windows, on front lawns, and in empty lots. Some items are displayed curbside, evidently in hopes that someone will take them home, while others appear to have been hastily, if not surreptitiously, discarded in vacant lots. In her MFA thesis exhibition, Almost Everything, Griffin created detailed, life-size drawings, in pencil crayon, of personal items from her home: a laborious mapping of her own consumer habits. In this new body of work, she has photographed discarded furniture and other household articles: the ultimate outcome of others’ consumer habits.

The camera, an apt tool, has allowed Griffin to respond more immediately to her subject. Photographs have been deeply associated with systems of commodification through their reproducibility, objectivity, and their unique ability to assign personality to consumer goods. In contemporary culture, individuals are persistently exposed to the commodification of “life style” in advertising, and Griffin’s images reflect upon and reveal such systems through the capture of these household items beyond the familiar context of home. The results are theatrical scenes that at times personify these found objects. What is at play in these images is the perpetual shifting perception of objects as both lost and found, broken and useful, desired and discarded, found and staged.

Jennifer Crane is a lens-based artist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research engages with issues of memory, narrative, and archival practices in both historical and contemporary photographs. Karla Griffin is a recent graduate of the University of Saskatchewan MFA program whose work explores issues of consumption, commodification, and identity formation through both photography and drawing.