March 5 – March 27, 2020
Reception Sunday, March 15, 2020 4-6 PM
Not Waving But Drowning is a look inside an Evangelical marriage. These images show the truth of a life lived in the confines of oppressive gender roles, cult-like manipulation, and the isolation of Fundamentalism.
Each image is equivalence for the unseen, for the reality behind facade. Despite the smiles and appearance of perfection, Complementarianism is an abusive system in which a wife serves her husband as a helpmeet, remains silent, and prays for her spouse to become a better man.
I use self-portraiture to share my own experience within the Fundamentalist Lifestyle without being explicitly autobiographical. My chosen medium of collodion used with contemporary digital media represents the outdated behaviors and rules imposed on women by Fundamentalism.
The image titles come from The Awakening by Kate Chopin and are sequenced by their titles’ place within the story. Unlike the character of Mrs. Pontellier, I choose to thrive in my freedom. I seek to unmask, to reveal truth. Growing up in Fundamentalist Christianity, I endured the cognitive dissonance of wearing the smiling facade to mask the oppressive truth. By unmasking that truth, I set myself free from the burden of my silence. This is my protest. I will no longer be silent. I choose to live. – MRP
Artist’s Statement of Purpose as submitted to the John Chervinsky Scholarship
Since I began graduate school in Boston in 2012 I have been on a journey of deconstruction of faith and reclaimation of my life for myself which catapulted me into a divorce in 2014. I knew then that I would eventually tell the story of this final step in leaving behind the faith I was raised in and an abusive situation. Not Waving But Drowning tells the story of my marriage and my escape. It is my own stand against oppression of any people by religion or other factors.
Although my work has been about my own journey I believe in the power of photography to change and empower people. I feel that it is more important than ever to stand up and tell my story openly. When I left my husband many people believed I should run away and hide in shame. Instead, living the life that is right for me, free from the stifles of religion has brought me joy I never imagined.
I want to share my photography with a larger audience, and to continue developing my career as an emerging photographer. The grant money would allow me to finish printing and framing this series, which would enable me to exhibit the series in its’ entirety. -MRP
Michelle Rogers Pritzl was born and raised Southern Baptist in Washington DC area. She fell in love with photography in a high school darkroom and has been making images ever since. Pritzl received a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in 2001, a MA in Art Education from California State University in 2010, and a MFA in Photography from Lesley University College of Art, where she studied with Christopher James, in 2014. Her work explores the tension between past and present in our psychological lives as well as the photographic medium itself, often working in a digital/analogue hybrid and using historic alternative processes.
Pritzl has been widely exhibited in New York, New Orleans, Fort Collins, Boston and Washington DC, as well as internationally. Pritzl was a Critical Mass Top 250 finalist in 2013, 2014, and 2017; she has been featured in Lenscratch, Fraction Magazine, Diffusion Magazine, Lumen Magazine, Shots Magazine, Your Daily Photograph via the Duncan Miller Gallery amongst others.
Pritzl has taught photography and drawing in both high school and college for the last 12 years, including as an adjunct instructor at Lesley University College of Art, and leading workshops at the Griffin Museum of Photography and Vermont Center for Photography. She lives on a farm in the Finger Lakes with her husband John and their son.