Debbie Grossman

 
Jessie Evans-Whinery, homesteader, with her wife Edith Evans-Whinery and their baby.

Jessie Evans-Whinery, homesteader, with her wife Edith Evans-Whinery and their baby.


My Pie Town
My Pie Town reworks and re-imagines a body of images originally photographed by Russell Lee for the United States Farm Security Administration in 1940. Using Photoshop to modify Lee’s pictures, I have created an imaginary, parallel world – a Pie Town populated exclusively by women. In some of my revisions, I have taken male bodies and rendered them to look like masculine women; in others, I have taken pairs of women, shifted their distance and body language, and brought them closer to create a sense of intimacy. In some of the pictures I have created women so masculine, or so ambiguously gendered, that they may not, for some viewers, clearly read as one gender or the other. I’ve also left a few images untouched, allowing for another dimension of re-reading Lee’s work.

Because the images of Lee’s time in Pie Town are available in high resolution form from the Library of Congress, I was able to get close to Lee’s images on a pixel level. For me, working with photographs and editing them so closely in Photoshop is a kind of an intimate act. Zooming in and carving a feminine jaw out of a masculine one, or manipulating the touch of one woman’s hand on another’s shoulder is a way for me to access and merge my desire with figures which would have otherwise remained frozen in time.  I’ve begun to think of Photoshop itself as my medium – I’m fascinated by the fact that it shares qualities with both photography and drawing. This work creates something that reads as a photograph, and is infinitely reproducible like a photograph, but at the same time depends heavily upon the intervention of my hand.

Pie Town, New Mexico. A community settled by about 200 migrant Texas and Oklahoma farmers who filed homestead claims. Scene on a homesteader's farm.

Pie Town, New Mexico. A community settled by about 200 migrant Texas and Oklahoma farmers who filed homestead claims. Scene on a homesteader's farm.

Main Street, Pie Town

Main Street, Pie Town

The Fae and Doris Caudill family eating dinner in their dugout.

The Fae and Doris Caudill family eating dinner in their dugout.

Ann Hesse, homesteader.

Ann Hesse, homesteader.

Couple at community meeting.

Couple at community meeting.

Mildred Anthony, standing by mounted animals which she killed.

Mildred Anthony, standing by mounted animals which she killed.

Couple at squaredance.

Couple at squaredance.

Swing your partner squaredance.

Swing your partner squaredance.

Nell Leathers, homesteader, shooting hawks which have been carrying away her chickens.

Nell Leathers, homesteader, shooting hawks which have been carrying away her chickens.

Virginia Norris with homegrown cabbage, one of the many vegetables which the homesteaders grow in abundance.

Virginia Norris with homegrown cabbage, one of the many vegetables which the homesteaders grow in abundance.

Ruth Leonard secures a calf in her pasture.

Ruth Leonard secures a calf in her pasture.

Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jessie and Edith Evans-Whinery.

Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jessie and Edith Evans-Whinery.

Jean Norris and wife Virginia Norris, homesteaders and town founders.

Jean Norris and wife Virginia Norris, homesteaders and town founders.

Picture of Jean Norris’ old farm home in Oklahoma, hanging in the Norris living room.

Picture of Jean Norris’ old farm home in Oklahoma, hanging in the Norris living room.

Bio
Debbie Grossman is interested in playing with time, re-imagining history, and reviving archival images and documents. Shereceived an MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from the School of Visual Arts, where she won the Paula Rhodes Memorial Prize, and holds a BA in Women’s Studies and Art History from Barnard College. In 2011, she will participate in the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace program. Debbie is also a Senior Editor at Popular Photography Magazine, where she is the resident expert on image editing software and technique. Her project “My Pie Town” is represented by the Julie Saul Gallery in New York. website.