Samantha Raleigh, Photography
Artist Statement: Behind Me, In Front of Me
Our memories hold a lot of weight. For better or for worse, they affect us daily. Our earliest memories can be the ones that shape us the most. When looking back on one’s childhood, one should hold memories of simplicity, innocence, and wonder. But for many, including myself, our memories instead are stained with shame, fear, and strife. In the pictures from my childhood, I see a little girl who is smiling, seemingly happy and beyond content with the life she was given. Knowing what I know now, I believe that I was suppressing a great deal of pain, making it difficult to look at these images and recall these memories.
Through the creation of this series of work, Behind Me, In Front of Me, I am reclaiming my childhood by visually confronting my past. I combine the images from my childhood and the present day, using doorways to represent a portal out of painful memories and into painless ones, rewriting the once stained narratives of my past with characters from my present who have helped me heal, grow, and create new memories. However, in my attempt to heal and move on from the wounds of my childhood, the memories don’t fully disappear; they linger, sometimes hauntingly, sometimes sweetly. The goal of creating this work is that one day I no longer look at my past through the lens of pain but through one of hope.