Photographer Astrid Reischwitz’ latest portfolios have transitioned to a personal and more conceptual perspective. Stories from the Kitchen Table explores her heritage and the meaning of home. In The Bedroom Project she creates intimate portraits, bringing personal spaces into public view. In The Gift of Regret she turns the camera inward in an exploration of her own history and values. An earlier portfolio, Street Art, reflected outward towards street art murals and the diversity of urban life.
Solo exhibitions of Street Art include: the Griffin Museum of Photography, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University (NEO), Firehouse Center for the Arts Newburyport, Munroe Center for the Arts Lexington, and Boston Public Library. The Bedroom Project was featured at Cambridge Art Association (CAA). Expectations, an earlier black and white series focusing on the shapes of pregnant women, was exhibited at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord MA.
Reischwitz’s photographs have appeared in juried group exhibitions at the Danforth Museum of Art, Off the Wall and New England Photography Biennial; CAA National Prize Show,Red, and Platinum (Best in Show); Photo Place Gallery VT; Gallery Seven, Maynard MA; Bedford Free Public Library; Brush Gallery Lowell; Concord Art Association (Prize for Best Photography), Frances N. Roddy Open Competition (Third Prize); Houston Center for Photography; Massachusetts Convention Center with Photographic Resource Center Boston; and DeCordova Museum School Gallery. She received a Silver Medal Award in the San Francisco International Photography Exhibition and was selected as one of Top 100 for Review Santa Fe Photo Festival.
Her photographs have been published in the Boston Globe, the Lexington Minuteman, the Newburyport Current, the Bedford Minuteman, Armenian Weekly, and other publications. Her work was also published online on LensCulture and appeared on Lenscratch, What Will You Remember, and 3200K online blogs, as well as Cambridge Art Association blog and Echoes of Pop in the New Millennia blogspot. Her portfolio Stories from the Kitchen Table is featured on Syracuse University’s Family.Life. Project webpage.
Reischwitz curates art exhibitions at the Bedford MA Free Public Library, most recently the group show Portraits, as well as featured exhibitions including Dick Simon (kNOw T-H-E-M), Caleb Cole (Other People’s Clothes), and Nick Johnson/Sus Iserbyt (Solitude). She is a juried member of the Cambridge Art Association.
A graduate of the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, with a PhD in chemistry, Reischwitz began her study of photography at the International Center of Photography in New York soon after moving to the United States. After relocating to the Boston area she continued her studies at the New England School of Photography, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, DeCordova Museum School, and Photography Atelier at Lesley University and Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester MA. She also holds a certificate in Arts Administration from New York University.
Stories from the Kitchen Table
I have created Stories from the Kitchen Table to preserve and honor a fading way of life in my childhood home.
Going home for me means travelling back to my family’s old farmhouse in a small village in Germany. It is the last remaining untouched house in the town. Going home evokes many different emotions. Most powerful is my need to document my childhood home, the people who passed through, and what, one day soon, will be left behind.
The very essence of home for me is gathering around the kitchen table to sit down to a meal with family and friends and share stories old and new.
In Stories from the Kitchen Table, some of my composites include old family photos combined with what I see today when I return home. I add flowers and fragmented images of fabric: these dish towels, tablecloths, napkins, and decorative wall hangings (dating back to 1799) were passed down from generation to generation.
The Gift of Regret
This series is based on an inner exploration of my history and values. The influences from my past linger, and looking back leads me to the things I have left behind; the path I never walked; the lifestyle that is about to disappear.
I find myself exploring feelings that surround the abandonment of my former scientific profession and comparing life in my country of origin to life in the US. I examine my core values about knowledge, education, and wisdom. I think about nourishment, lifestyle, globalization, and changes in communication.
In The Gift of Regret, I choose objects to symbolize these changes and values. By wrapping or presenting them as gifts, I preserve and honor them in my memory. After sitting with these images for a long time and experiencing the loss, I now feel that I can let go of regrets to make room in my heart for my new journey.
The Bedroom Project
We can spend many hours, days, even weekends in the homes of friends and relatives without ever seeing their bedrooms. For The Bedroom Project, I ask friends, relatives, and acquaintances for permission to photograph their bedrooms, bringing their private space into public view. I create intimate portraits of the couples and individuals through their private sanctuaries, where secrets are shared and dreams are dreamt.
I was curious if their beds and décor would reflect the people as I know them, or if I would learn anything new about them. I became aware of items in the bedrooms that have deep meaning for the individual and tell a personal story. Even the short amount of time I spent in these private rooms left me with a better understanding of the individual.
Believing that art lives in the space between the viewer’s eye and the artwork itself, I like to imagine that the viewer creates inhabitants who will become an inherent part of the picture and fill the bedrooms with life. I wonder how these imagined people reflect aspects and personalities of the actual people who, in fact, live/lived in each particular bedroom.
Street Art is an art form brought directly to the viewer, in many cases without any prior selection by curators, art critics or the media. In composing each photograph I position myself near existing Street Art, often in lonely, urban areas, and then wait for people to walk by.
Through their reactions or lack of reaction to the artworks they become both viewers of and participants in an art making process. The people in these pieces become a part of an art event themselves.
Ripped paper or the application of paint over the original art work documents traces of former interactions with the art by unknown participants and shows another layer of art mediated by urban life.
By choosing the specific street art in its unique, if out of the way location, I maintain a degree of control over the process while having no control over the people or actions that will become an inherent part of the photograph.