Photo Restoration as a Healing Art


As art work goes, there is little I like better than settling into a nice photo restoration or photo montage project in photoshop. I use the tools of commercial art (disposable art) to help people build personal history. This work is about helping to create new artifacts. The original artifact gets to remain intact and the image is freed to live again.
There are two components to this work. Restoration which is more precise, takes forever, and is about healing. And the photo montage which is faster, more fun, and makes great gifts.
I think about a line from a Laurie Anderson song where she talks about history being like an angel being blown backwards into the future. She goes on; “and the angel wants to go back and fix things, to repair the things that have been broken. But there is a storm blowing from paradise.” . . . And this storm is called Progress.
So for me, the act of restoration can be like a miracle and it can be a blessing that I can bring into someone’s life. Photo restoration is about helping people with healing. It is about giving them back something that they had thought was damaged (a connection to someone really important) that is beyond repair.
An example of this is a photo from the early 1960s I restored of a woman as a small girl sitting on Santa’s lap. She was with her dad whom she never knew. It had been found in her grandmother’s house, crumpled and broken in a drawer. It was a tiny 3 inch print that had been kept in the dark so the colors were beautiful, and the optics on the camera that was used were great, so it was a beautiful little print that was incredibly important to this woman, and it was in 5 pieces. I was able slowly build the image back to give her a beautiful 8 x 10 in a little frame.
Photo montage, layering in objects, frames, and borders, and combining images and text is really fun. Just imagine picking out a couple small prints from a forgotten old album and scanning them and maybe cleaning them up a little. Then I can create a new artifact where I have layered in two or three images of the same people and given it a nice border or background, and other fun elements. 
One of the things I have learned in this work is that every body I speak with about this interest has a picture with a story. And I enjoy hearing about each of them, because everybody loves to tell you their story, and I enjoy listening. “I have this picture” they start, and they weave together the lives of their family and friends, the oral history tradition alive and well.
All lending to our permanence as people. Contributing to the pile of things we leave behind that say something about us as people, and making connections.

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Show Opening

Raven's Nest Gallery Art Show Aug 10 to Sep 5August 10, 2012
The big day is here.

Gerry Monaghan Flickr Photos

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