December 8 – February 14, 2021
Online Artist talk January 21, 2021 at 7 PM Eastern Time
“Things that are hard to bear are sweet to remember” Seneca, Roman philosopher
Mourning is a very individual activity. Everyone has their own unique way of remembering the deceased. For many, it is through photographs or videos. Others find visiting a cemetery comforting. For Mimi, it is through purses.
Ironically, I met Mimi at funeral. She was carrying a purse of woven gold metal in the shape of a box–almost like a woven lunch box. I commented on its uniqueness and discovered the beginnings of this series “Mimi and Her Purses.”
Mimi and her husband, Phil, come from large families with lots of aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins. Along with many family celebrations, there are also somber moments when someone passes away. To help retain each person’s memory, Mimi chooses to use their purses for special occasions. This keeps their spirit alive and creates a living memorial for all who see Mimi wearing these handbags– reminders of the past when every outfit had it’s own matching purse.
I was invited to Mimi’s closet to see the numerous handbags and hear the wonderful stories about an Aunt or Grandmother or even a Great Grandmother who owned these remnants of times past. Inside purse is a holy card with a picture of a Saint, the person’s name, date of birth and death and whatever the previous owner left behind—handkerchief, lipstick and other inconsequential items such as band aids, packets of Splenda, price tags, toothpicks and even a sewing kit.
Each purse is a tribute to the past, creating a celebratory experience from an everyday object. By allowing the handbag and the items found inside to live a new life, Mimi captures the essence of memorable people in her life. -EC
Ellen Cantor is a Southern California artist who uses the camera to reimagine the family photo album and objects that hold personal histories in order to explore the distillation and persistence of memory.
She received a BS from The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and continued her education in Interior and Architectural Design at UCLA. She has studied photography at Santa Fe Workshops, Maine Media Workshop and The Los Angeles Center of Photography.
Her work has been featured in 21 solo exhibitions including dnj Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, The Griffin Museum of Photography, The Center for Fine Art Photography, and The Spartanburg Museum of Art. She was a Critical Mass finalist in 2015 and 2016 and winner of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers as well as first place in the Fine Art category. She has participated in over 100 national and international group exhibitions including the Italian Cultural Exchange in Naples, Italy.
Ellen is listed under Modern Photographers on the website www.all-about-photo.com. Her photographs have been published in Harper’s Magazine, Muzée Magazine, SHUTR Magazine, Professional Photographer. Southwest Review and online in Lenscratch, f-stopmagazine, fraction magazine, rfotofolio, Voyage LA Magazine, My Daily Photograph, Lightleaked, a photo editor, Float Online Magazine, thisiscolossal and Silvershotz.