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Portfolio & Interview: Angela Bacon-Kidwell – Traveling Dream

photo-eye Gallery Portfolio & Interview: Angela Bacon-Kidwell – Traveling Dream photo-eye Gallery is pleased to introduce a new portfolio by Photographer's Showcase artist Angela Bacon-Kidwell titled Traveling Dreams. This series of toned black and white images pulls from the artist's own dreams as well as her daily surroundings to build a waking dreamscape full of stirring metaphors about the human experience.
Untitled 5, 2008 – Angela Bacon Kidwell

photo-eye Gallery is pleased to introduce a new portfolio by Photographer's Showcase artist Angela Bacon-Kidwell titled Traveling Dreams. This series of toned black and white images pulls from the artist's own dreams as well as her daily surroundings to build a waking dreamscape full of stirring metaphors about the human experience. Like Home by Nightfall, Bacon-Kidwell's first project on the Showcase, Traveling Dream focuses primarily on the experiences of a young boy. It is through his eyes that we witness the contemporary world transform into a wondrous and eerie landscape.

A selection of images from Traveling Dream by Angela Bacon-Kidwell will be on view at photo-eye Gallery May 29th – June 3rd as a part of our concurrent exhibitions Home by Nightfall and  Emergent Behavior featuring work by Thomas Jackson. Bacon-Kidwell recently took some time to speak with photo-eye regarding her inspirations and intentions surrounding Traveling Dreams.

Whispery Moment, 2008 – Angela Bacon-Kidwell

photo-eye:     Traveling Dream dates back to around 2008. Can you tell us how this project started? 

Angela Bacon-Kidwell:     Traveling Dream started when I became a mother for the first and only time. I could no longer work in solitude in the studio painting so I took to the road with baby in tote and co-created this series.

pe:     You define the project as a waking dream; are you recreating specific elements from your own dreams with these images?

ABK:     Analyzing my dreams was a tool, like a key to a safe. It was not the key that made the mysterious thing inside the safe exist. That mystery always existed, all the key did was make it easier to unlock. So, what is with all those birds you might ask? In the series birds represent spiritual freedom and psychological liberation. They're are symbols of life’s changes like boats, cages, reflections, roads, trains and windows. These objects would be the props that expressed or channeled my emotions. I spent many years actively recording my dreams and I believe those years trained me to recognize when a symbol or metaphor would appear in my surroundings. The symbol acted as the bridge to my creativity. It was something to grab on to and combine with other elements to create a story.

Untitled 3, 2008 – Angela Bacon-Kidwell

pe:     The images themselves seem narrative. Is there a specific story or allegory you are telling – or is every image its own encapsulated world? 

Behind the Scenes photographing Untitled 3 – ABK
ABK:     Although planned to some extent, my images often rely on spontaneity and the ability to accept the present moment. My son has taught me this during our years of exploration together. I've tried to learn how to rest while in motion — as an artist and mother. There are the inevitable times of distractions and interruptions, but my goal is to try and stay on course by acknowledging the essence of creation, which to me, is play. Our daily purpose was pure engagement with creativity. This spirit is what animates a work such as Untitled 3. My son was merely amusing himself, and me, behind a curtain, near one of my father-in-law's hunting trophies. As unaffected as the scene before me was, when I later viewed the image I noticed that my son had sprouted horns of a sort, made of shadows and the fall of drapery. I was reminded of the Old Testament covenant which sent a goat, a scapegoat, into the desert to bear the sins of the people. I discerned from the scene a lesson that of these two innocent beings, one an effigy and the other abundantly alive, that no one person's suffering can bring a society, or an individual, peace.

Love Without Hope, 2008 – Angela Bacon Kidwell
Outtake from Love Without Hope – ABK

pe:     How were some of these images made? Can you describe the process? What were you thinking about?

ABK:     Love Without Hope occurred in a like way — from the seemingly simple matter of being mindfully present. My son and I had been exploring the woods by a local lake and he fell asleep in the car. I decided to drive around a while and let him sleep. I came across a bridge and saw many birds taking over the sky. There were so many of them that it looked like a rainstorm approaching. I sat in my car for a long time watching them dive down into the water, and I remembered I had recently bought a birdcage from a church yard sale. So again, I melded images that seemed incongruous — bird’s uninhibited flight, their freedom, countered by a child and cage. He may have released the birds, or may be trying to keep them. These sorts of unresolved narratives are what I hope that my work might invite. I trust that a viewer can bring their own stories to my work, unhindered by my imposition of some explicit meaning.

Escaping History, 2008 – Angela Bacon-Kidwell

My own life has been a series of ever-changing meanings, and I expect that may be the case for many. This transient quality of truths and of their unanticipated merging informed my work Escaping History. The title is an imperative in one sense- we all do at some point, leave. In another sense, history is a stream we never leave; one where our individuality is carried forward in those who survive us. In early 2009, my Grandmother died suddenly. She was not sick, she was just here one day and gone the next. The day before she died I spent the whole day working on this image, and was inexplicably sad. My grandma was highly sensitive to the invisible world of emotions, and I am frequently overtaken by emotions that do not seem to originate internally. Though I could not account for this pervasive melancholy, it was flowing through me and into this photograph. It was as though my grandma and I were unconsciously “passing emotions” while I was creating this image.

Night Hunt, 2008 – Angela Bacon-Kidwell

pe:     What process are you using to create the images? Are you combining photographs at times?

ABK:     I’m by no means a purist when it comes to photography. I use all my skills in order to communicate my vision and Photoshop is just one part of my toolbox. I do create many of my images in camera and a good example of this is in the photo Night Hunt. My son and I were exploring my father-in-laws hanger and he became interested in an old car. As he was playing in the front seat I became fascinated with all the dust and animal foot prints on the hood. It was an interesting scene already but it needed something to induce a story. So, I subtracted the dirt from the window shield (physically, with finger and water) to create the illusion of bird silhouettes flying closely to the car. The scene is ominous but there is also protection being provided by the car.

pe:     Do you have any particular inspirations for this project, or your work in general?

ABK:     While in Yangzhou, China in 2010 I found an especially resonant quote:
“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."
My work is an attempt to balance these perpetual transactions. It has provided an interim sense of purpose, though one that resists fully revealing itself. A singular answer may likely never appear, though that has not so far diverted my striving to discover what it may be.


View the Traveling Dreams portfolio

View the Home by Nightfall portfolio

Read photo-eye's previous interview with Angela Bacon-Kidwell about Home by Nightfall

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Director Anne  Kelly at 505.988.5152 ext 121 or