Art by Suzanne Gonsalez-Smith: National Art Exhibit (USA)
The imagery of my photographs contains the metaphor of myths and dreams. Using the contemporary framework of my personal history I explore personal loss, religious and cultural identities, and the inescapable essence of mortality.
Photography has a history of being linked to the recording of memory and therefore, also loss. The photographic image is a visual memory both real and fabricated in its design. It is capable of expressing the duality of the moment: life and death, dark and light, loss and fulfillment. In documentation, the act of death or loss is often portrayed as either romantic or brutally gothic in appearance.
Using a variety of photographic processes, my images reflects this duality of life. This can be expressed through my combining of elements of beauty with those of loss, death or decay. Using both traditional and cultural images of symbolism to further the narrative creates imagery that speaks of dreams, personal mythology, and the human experience. Death is often present through such symbolism as bones and marks of disintegration, all made to preserve the inevitability that all life is subject to the laws of mortality. The use of this symbolism is a direct reference to the 17th century Vanitas paintings. The bones give reference to the idea of our temporal existence and opens up the discussion for the creation of iconic imagery that focuses on the vitality as well as the ending of life. It is also a valid reminder of my Hispanic roots. My work speaks of culture, personal history and mythology, spirituality and carries the universal reference that in the end, all things are subject to age, decay and ultimately death.
All my photographs share the same core: what it means to be human and that we are all temporal beings. Often, my work uses the beauty and innocence of what it means to be a child in combination with elements that remind us of death such as bones, guns, skull imagery, broken toys, and cracked dolls. The effect creates art that reflects life in a manner that is hauntingly beautiful but humanly flawed.