Sally Stockhold Artist Statement for “myselfportraits, ode to icons”
For me, reading is a passion and I particularly enjoy memoir, biography, and history.
Over the years, I have been acquainted with stories of accomplished women from history and fiction whom time has not been kind to in the remembering. I wanted to acknowledge some of these women and create a photographic narrative using myself as the “canvas” to depict them. During the process I realized that men often played an integral part in the lives of many iconic woman and I began to include them when pertinent to the story. This multi-layered project has enabled me to express my artistic center in imagining a moment in time with these people and sharing that experience with others through acting, painting and photography.
A new photograph is begun by extensively researching the lives of the women I intend to portray. I seek out the essence of a person, and distill that concept into an image. My intention is never to impersonate but rather to refer to the iconographic qualities of each woman or man in my photographic story.
How I Work
When I have settled on a concept, I hand-paint a “magically realistic” life-size backdrop to give my subject a “sense of place.” I also begin rummaging in thrift shops for clothing, wigs, props, and the little details that will enhance the story.
When the set is complete, the lights are in place and the camera and tripod are locked down, I put on wigs and make-up, change into costumes and begin to embody my iconic character or characters. I shoot with a digital camera so that I can step out of the set from time to time and determine if I have captured my perception and placement of each person in the picture. If necessary, I use Photoshop sparingly to crop and “stitch” together multiple people in a scene as I play all the people in my photographs.
The images are printed on inkjet watercolor paper. I then hand-color them with prismacolor pencils and pastels... leaving my personal touch in the digital age.
Artist Statement for “Hotel Chelsea, The Life I Never Lived”
The ongoing series “The Life I Never Lived” came about when I began ruminating on the years I lived in New York City, between 1964 and 1986, and the experiences I may have missed out on. While I had many hilarious, crazy and amazing times in the city, there were certainly things that passed me by, for example, the *Hotel Chelsea. I frequently walked past the nearby hotel, which contained rooms as well as permanent residences, and was buzzing with so many of the greatest artists, musicians, actors, writers and miscreants of the time. But as Kierkegaard once said, “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
I do wish I would have walked into the Chelsea lobby, sat down, gazed at the scene, the people, the paintings, sculpture, poetry, etc. that adorned the lobby walls as well as throughout the hotel. However, like many New Yorkers, we observe an unwritten rule that one should never intrude on the lives of famous people. By the way, the art on the walls had been donated to Stanley Bard, the peripatetic but beloved part owner/manager/gatekeeper of the hotel, who sometimes accepted artist’s work in exchange for overdue rent payments.
For these photographs, I have imagined a storyline where I was in the Hotel Chelsea and been invited to share a few moments in the lives of these iconic people and there friends.
I play the part of all the characters in each photo, paint the backdrops, assemble props, wigs and costumes, make the photograph and hand-color the finished prints.
*The Hotel Chelsea was taken over by corporate owners in 2011. It has since been torn apart, remodeled and the artworks presently are in storage. Most long-term residents have been evicted.