Kathryn Reichert


Places We Have Been

Our lives unfold as a series of events in which the decisions we make simultaneously shape our understanding and definition of ourselves. Our personal narratives are crafted from circumstances we find ourselves in. We are constantly confronted with decisions. Sometimes we make the right ones and sometimes we (arguably) don’t. Often, particularly poignant events leave impressions that weigh heavily on our minds. But one of the most fascinating things about the human mind is its ability to reconcile our actions based on the situation. We learn our lesson, alter our perspective to account for this new information and redesign ourselves. After enough time has passed, memories are tucked away and- like shedding a skin- we leave that iteration of our past self behind, striving to look only forward, to the new and improved version of ourselves. We applaud our growth as a more stable, mature human being.

            Of course, this serenity only lasts until a catalyst presents itself and all of those memories come flooding back. We are forced to once again confront the magnitude and consequences of all of these events. One can’t help but wonder if this was the place where your friendship fell apart or your love was born. This association rekindles the fragments of our past selves we grew from, forcing us to recognize and re-examine the person we once were and the person we have thus become.

            My series “Places We Have Been” focuses on the evolution of identity materializing from ghosts of our former selves. This is a very personal project; I began it as I was questioning how I had come to be the person I am. Why do I lie so much? Why do I avoid others? Where does all of this worry and guilt come from? I began to look at the landscapes that have played a significant role in my life and found that at first glance, images of these places were startlingly unfamiliar. I remembered them in a way that was painted in emotion and memory; the landscape had evolved into more a psychological one. To more accurately capture the significance of these places, I digitally painted objects into the landscape reifying the emotions that I attribute to each particular place. The wear-and-tear evident on these objects are meant to portray the passing of time. Like the objects in each photo, each memory was once blindingly new and raw. The passing of time has taken some of their luster, leaving a whisper of their presence. A ghost, but certainly still present, much like the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you return to a place you have not been for years.