Port Washington self-portraits, '73-'74
...been in love with the medium, though I think that words generally strengthen images.
That said, I am really fond of these few self-portraits taken at my mother’s sisters’s house in the town where I grew up. Krissy and I occasionally took the Long Island Railroad out to visit aunt Marion. I can’t imagine what she thought when I appeared at the train station wearing my homemade three-tiered African print skirt or my best blue Indian dress with tiny mirrors sewn on. But she never said anything. And allowed me to wander around her house with my Rollei and a tripod.
There I am, lying on the carpet under the baby grand piano where my uncle and father napped after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. And there’s my aunt Marion sitting on the wooden chair, the beloved Hoover by her side, Krissy leaning into her lap. I can hear her saying, “Lissie, don’t get my hands in the picture.” Next to me, on the dresser, is one of my mother’s lamps that had occupied a place on an end table in her living room.
It was good fortune that sent the little girl running up the side walk in front of the house that I’m sure my mother loved, 74 Litchfield Road, the house where she died when I was twelve. I remember precious little about my mother, but I have such vivid memories of Marion. Her daughter, Patsy, who was the fashion editor for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, should have functioned as a role model for me, but I was in too much emotional distress to quickly take hold of a profession.
When I took these photographs I didn’t know that I was close to my biggest break, that I would teach photography at MIT for three years and that this would lead to a stable way of making a living.
I’m pretty sure I donated several of these prints to the Museum of Modern Art when John Szarkowski bought some of my daily self-portraits from 1972-73. I thought it would be meaningful to have a photograph of Marion in the collection since her father, my grandfather, and a sculptor of religious statuary, had often taken his children to the Chicago Art Institute on Saturdays.