Cabinet Cards: UnCanny Ancestry

For years I’ve been scavenging and accumulating old photographs from my family and friends, and many of theses are late-19th cabinet cards. (Each card is 4.25” x 6/5”.) I scanned the part of the card I wanted - always a person with an enigmatic expression, often dressed in Victorian and late 19th century finery - intending and often using them in my composite work. I would then throw the card into a drawer, basically forgetting about it. My plan was to sell this ever-increasing box of old photos, or at least, gift them to some worthy person, but I came to fear that they would end up on someone’s trash heap - or worse yet, EBay or a fireplace. There must be some reason I’ve kept the original cards, I wondered.

This series answers that question! I decided to bring those ancient folks - whose names I do not know - back home - or at least, back to the photo studio where they stood with head immobile, patiently waiting for their likeness to appear upside down in the lens glass, and to be printed on paper, then glued to the photographer’s studio card. The figures in this series are in fact the original ones on the cards, but as you can see, I’ve taken a bit of liberty with them, breathing new life and hopefully making them smile - if they could smile, that is.

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