We are pleased to feature Emily Belz this month. Emily, a photographic artist and educator works have been seen in exhibits both nationally and regionally. She was the recipient of a 2014 artist grant from the Cambridge Arts Council, a 2015 Critical Mass Finalist, and was awarded the Manoog Family artist residency in 2018. Additionally Emily teaches workshops & classes at the Griffin Museum of Photography. Visit the Griffin Museum
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Forward From Where We Came
Domestic space is a common denominator—while varied in form and function, it is something we have all experienced. It is so ubiquitous in daily life we may not give it much thought. And yet, for those who spend time searching for meaning in domestic spaces, the sense of discovery is revelatory. Emily Belz’s photographs understand the work of domestic spaces. They are literally the places we call home, reflective of our past, present, and future. In her continually changing relationship with her home, the house becomes a living organism—growing, evolving, and altering how she relates to the space. Domestic space is supposed to be comforting and familiar, and disrupted domestic spaces disturb. They create an alternative narrative that raises questions in how to understand a familial past.
Across this series, Emily notes intangibles. In discussing what we inherit, physically and emotionally in Forward From Where We Came, we are introduced to three houses. These are domestic spaces that shaped both Emily and her husband, as well as the space they created together with their son. They are organic spaces—occupied, worn, bearing the marks of habitation. Domestic space is designed to reflect the lives lived within, and it is simultaneously public and private. In playing off of this dichotomy, it is worth noticing what we do not see in each of Emily’s images—what stays hidden. A piece of paper hangs folded on a wall, but we can’t see if anything is written on it; a weathered door is partially open, but we don’t really see what is outside; empty hooks hang on a wall, with no indication of what was once on them; a mirror stands out against a dark wall, but there is no reflection. Emily Belz’s ability to capture and convey the intangibles reinforces the idea that we do not need to travel widely to tell a marvelous story. - Jessica Roscio, Curator, Danforth Art
Visit: Emily Belz
Emily Belz is a photographer and educator based in Cambridge, MA. Her work focuses on domestic still lifes, and reveals a strong affinity for light, space, and color. Belz has exhibited her photographs both regionally and nationally. She was the recipient of a 2014 artist grant from the Cambridge Arts Council, a 2015 Critical Mass Finalist, and was awarded the Manoog Family artist residency in 2018. Belz holds a BA in photography and art history from Hampshire College (1997), an MA in art and design education from the Rhode Island School of Design (2009), and an MFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art (2017). She teaches classes and workshops at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA. When not making photographs she can be found sailing with her husband and young son, and chasing the light.
I have long held an interest in photographing domestic spaces. When my son was born seven years ago, my relationship to my home—to the light, space, and time within it—changed dramatically; time crawled by in the early hours of the morning as I watched the sunrise and the light dance around the walls of my home. The different times of day and the quality of the light I experienced provoked strong emotions— a shadow could turn from daunting to comforting within a matter of minutes. I began imagining and experiencing photographs everywhere in my home, only occasionally taking my camera outside to make an image. This confinement of space pushed me inward and sharpened my eye towards recognizing the details of my environment and the underlying emotions they evoke.
My most recent body of work, Forward From Where We Came, is a series of digital color photographs taken in three houses: my husband’s childhood home, the home my parents shared until my father’s death, and my current home in Cambridge MA. This two-year project is an inquiry into the immaterial aspects of inheritance. As I photograph I think about the lives lived in these homes, and the stories that survive. Many of the images bear traces of the people who occupy, or occupied, these spaces: hairpins, a handprint on a chalkboard, a piece of paper taped to the wall about to fall down. I investigate these intangibles through the language of the lens.