I have been working on an on-going series of hand-embroidered photographs based on found elementary school class pictures from the 1970s. In the class photographs, the faces
of the students, or what would normally be the main focal points of the image, are
obscured with cross-stitch embroidery made to resemble the digital pixel structure of
the image and sewn directly into the photograph. By obscuring what would typically be the most important parts of the image, otherwise overlooked details are brought into focus such as body language and other embodiments of social convention. I am interested exploring these details to reveal not only the relationships between the various figures, but also how, even at a very young age, children were taught and instructed to pose in particular ways, often based on gender. I am interested in this time period not only because it is my own generation, but because it is the last generation to have a childhood unclouded by digital technology. These class pictures were taken before camera phones and digital cameras and at a time when having one’s class picture taken was a more formal
occasion- something that has been lost due to the ubiquitous nature of digital photography- making participants more conscious of the photograph as an aspirational vehicle for impression management. The class photos are from big cities and small towns throughout the United States but, despite their varied locations, the poses of children and teachers, classroom decorations, and clothing are strikingly similar providing a glimpse into the zeitgeist of the this generation and a view into education systems of the time.