Photographic Procreation


Photographic Procreation: Present-ness and Kinship in Family Photographs is a project existing in three parts:


Thesis paper and Symposium

A written thesis, accessible in its entirety at SAIC's Flaxman Library, was excerpted in a Symposium presentation on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at Weinberg / Newton Gallery in Chicago, IL.


Exhibition and catalogue

New photographic artwork from the Inscriptions series was exhibited at Weinberg / Newton Gallery, Friday, April 6 through Saturday, May 5.


Family photo online database

An online database holding thousands of family photographs, collected from relatives in Texas and California, is currently being re-built.  While its organization shifts based on my own research and theorization, the images themselves are intended to be shared with my entire family.




With Photographic Procreation I begin by engaging with a feedback loop of pleasure and obligation that exists in both the mechanical and biological forms of reproduction portrayed by my own family photographs. Photography has long been used as a way to normalize the American family and to exhibit the structure of a relationship through the combination of genetic likeness and affective posing, but my family often remains unaware and uninterested in what our photographs communicate beyond sentimentality, overlooking what structures are being affirmed, and what social orders are authenticated. My family is made up of individuals living in a time that has experienced an exponential increase in the production of photographic images, yet the photos they make today, although larger in quantity and more readily shared, look strikingly similar to photos of our ancestors made over 100 years ago.

In family photos I’ve looked at with members of my family, instances of divorce and misrecognition reveal a relationship to the present inherent within photography. When together, family and photography can break up reliance on the past and duty to the future.

It’s mostly the women in my family who have worked before me to build these family archives, and without siblings or the intent to have children of my own, I’m interested in how my archiving and theorization of family photos allows me to participate in this reproductive tradition which connects me to, yet sets me apart from, the other ways women in my family procreate. Through a comprehensive online database of family photographs, I enact this present-ness in photography that acknowledges forms of repetition that range from the comical to the dangerous, exposes cracks in a façade of conformity, and disrupts hierarchies of ancestor and descendant.

Thesis awarded a Graduate Student Fellowship

Thesis Committee:

Primary Advisor/1st Reader: Shawn Michelle Smith, Professor and Chair, Department of Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

2nd Reader: Matthew Goulish, Adjunct Professor, Master of Fine Arts Writing Program, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

3rd Reader: Karen Morris, Associate Professor, Departments of Visual and Critical Studies, and Liberal Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago




Visitors were invited to come to Weinberg / Newton Gallery and have their family photos professionally scanned, and receive hi- resolution digital files.

Tuesdays, April 10, 17, 24, and May 1, 2018 - 1:00 to 4:00 pm

300 W Superior Street, Suite 203
Chicago, IL 60654