Marsha Guggenheim’s series is on show now at the Griffin Museum. Without a Map reimagines this time that’s deeply rooted in my memories. Visiting my childhood home, synagogue and family plot provided an entry into this personal retelling. Working with family photos, creating new images from my past and turning the camera on myself, I found the means to evoke, reinterpret and address unanswered questions born from early imprints that were buried long ago.
Tell us a little about your background
This is a picture I made of me as a young girl and as a woman today. A lot has happened over these years. I didn’t come to photography until late in life after a career in the nonprofit sector where I created programs supporting the underserved community.
How has your approach to photography evolved since beginning the project?
This project is technically a significant departure from my previous work. I started with color but found sepia was a much more effective way to work with my old photos and to create a sense of time with my new ones. I learned techniques for manipulating images with available light and in-camera affects and only used tools like Photoshop for basic cropping and print production.
Tell a little about your exhibition, “Without a Map”, and how it was conceived
For years I have loved making pictures of people and learning their stories. About five years ago, I realized that there was one story I hadn’t addressed and that was my own. To make this series, I looked at old family photos, made self portraits, and created pictures from conversations I had with people who had known my mother. I also visited my childhood home, synagogue and family plot to gain a better understanding of my early childhood.
Has there been a piece of contemporary art that has particularly engaged or moved you?
I’m not sure Robert Frank’s work would still be considered contemporary, but he was my teacher, unbeknownst to him. I love his work and how he makes pictures of daily life, whether it’s a trolly car or a funeral, you get a strong sense of the people involved and their environment.
ABOUT MARSHA GUGGENHEIM
Marsha Guggenheim is a San Francisco based fine art photographer. Her passion is storytelling and using images to re-imagine the past and inspire the present. Marsha spent years photographing and documenting the lives of formerly homeless mothers. This work resulted in the monograph, Facing Forward, highlighting thirty-five women through portraits combined with stories of their life experiences. Over the past five years, Marsha has been working on her series, Without a Map. The project draws on recreating images from memories and ephemera to reconstruct her personal history. Without a Map looks at the life-long impact of loss on a child and how both trauma and joy affect the human soul.
Represented by Corden Potts Gallery, Marsha is a 2021 and 2022 Critical Mass finalist. Her work has been shown in over fifty exhibitions and is included in numerous private collections. Feature articles and interviews range from Black & White Magazine, All About Photo Magazine, Fraction Magazine, F-Stop Photography Magazine and Lenscratch. In 2023, Marsha will be featured in a solo show at The Griffin Museum of Photography and will also participate in a six-artist group exhibition at the Harvey Milk Photography Center in San Francisco.