S. Billie Mandle

 
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Reconciliation
In this series I photograph confessionals, the small rooms found in Catholic churches where people confess their sins. I interpret the spaces from the perspective of the individual, focusing on the personal experience of confession and the interiority of faith. I was raised Catholic and the traditions of these rooms are familiar to me. Now photographing the confessional is a type of ritual; I use a large format camera and available light, lifting the curtain of the confessionals, just as I lift the dark cloth of the camera.

Confessionals are places of contradiction, light and darkness, corporeality and transcendence; people confess their sins and ask for grace surrounded by the trace of past confessions. I use these visual and conceptual oppositions to question the interdependence between tangible doctrine and intangible beliefs; I am interested in the way the architecture of the confessional gives form to the abstract idea of penance. In making these images I approach the confessionals as metaphorical spaces—-rooms that suggest the paradoxes of faith and forgiveness.

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Bio
I was born in 1978 and grew up in Connecticut and California. I received a BA in Biology and English from Williams College in 2000 and an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in 2008. My work has been exhibited in Boston and New York and in 2009 I was awarded an individual artist TIER grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council/NYSCA. I teach photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and the International Center of Photography.  website.