Andrea Meislin Gallery is proud to present Story Telling, a survey exhibition spanning over a decade of work by photographer Angela Strassheim. Featuring a selection of both new and old works, Story Telling includes twelve photographs and a site-specific replica of the artistʼs grandmotherʼs closet.
Originally from small town Mid- America, Strassheim has emerged as a powerful documenter of our nationʼs domestic culture. Leveraging her familiarity with Pan- Americaʼs religious and socioeconomic idiosyncrasies, she trains her lens past the obviously saccharine and jars us with her portrayal of alternate Americana.
Strassheimʼs images describe stories within the stories that are their backdrop. War legends, battle tales and romantic sagas elapse within chronicles of static bachelordom, anxious childhood, provocative adolescence and irritable paternity. In Storytelling, a gaggle of blond boys squirm impatiently, gripped in the throes of a hunting tale while further along the wall, in Butterfly, a young boy tenderly handles a delicate injured insect. Girl Found in Bed is an adolescent girl sprawled nude across her bed. Reminiscent of Courbetʼs “LʼOrigine du Monde”, she embodies our collective coming of age narrative. Across the room, Isabelle in the Window is apprehended in ambiguously motivated mid undress. Is she innocently exposed or an intentional performer for a familiar voyeur? In Garage, a motherʼs eyes glaze over, with exhaustion, tension, or both – her husband riveted – while their three children slumber in the back seat. Three of the tales in Strassheimʼs Story Telling emerge from her Evidence series – forensic family portraits documenting domestic homicides. And around the corner, Strassheimʼs grandmotherʼs closet emits the low static hum that is the skene to her portraits looking on. At the center of the room are five hearts, posthumous, forensic portraits of this most sensitive, most critical of organs. Like Angelaʼs work, these hearts encapsulate the whole within the part. Each heart is the fulcrum of its ownerʼs life; each image, the core of its story.
Story Telling is situated in the land before time, a strange, liminal, Jungian dream- or nightmare- scape, in no-time and every-place, where humans make decisions and form identities. It is the same place from whence the ritual of storytelling derives. It is here that Strassheim challenges us to confront our societal conventions, engaging in a study of comparative domesticity that ultimately aims to empower us in overcoming routine and reassessing the minutiae of our living.
Angela Strassheim was born in Bloomfield, Iowa. She received a BFA from Minneapolis College of Arts and Design in 1995, and an MFA from Yale University in 2003. Also certified in forensic and biomedical photography, she worked as a forensic photographer in Miami, New York, and Richmond, VA for several years. Strassheim was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Day for Night, and most recently in Crime Unseen at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. She is the recipient of a Women in Photography Lightside Individual Project Grant, a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, a Photography Fellowship from the McKnight Foundation, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship, and an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Strassheimʼs work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Aperture Foundation, the Israel Museum, the Minneapolis Center for Photography, Yale University, the Monterey Museum of Art, the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary of Art and many notable private collections.