“I don't want viewers to discover; I want them to recognize.”
In 2015 I began a combinatorial project, Remember me. a collective narrative in found words and photographs, to respond to the divisive tone emerging in our country. Since then, I have hand-embroidered over 1,200 found family photographs with texts copied from anonymously-written obituaries. My intent is to reflect our personal truths, through photos and words, in the lives of others. This abundance and accumulation of the vernacular illustrates that there is more that connects than separates usthat we are more alike than different.
“Every photograph is a certificate of presence.”
“The ultimate wisdom of the photographic image is to say: ‘There is the surface. Nowthinkor rather feel, intuitwhat is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.’ Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy.”
These embroidered photos formed part of a recent immersive installation at the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana. Framed photos accompanied by refurbished thrift store mid-century furniture, knickknacks and mounds of found, anonymously hand-crocheted doilies and afghans, alluded to familiar domestic spaces. This accumulation of collected and remixed memories called attention to the universal aspects of human experience. The nostalgia evoked created positive feelings and promoted social connectedness.
Montana-based Jane Waggoner Deschner has been an exhibiting artist for forty years; for the last twenty her medium has been the found family photograph. Her work has been shown in numerous venues including Robert Mann Gallery, NYC; Fort Collins Museum of Art, CO; University of Michigan-Dearborn; Missoula Art Museum, MT; Churchill Arts, Fallon, NV; and other galleries and museums. Her large solo immersive installation Remember me. at the Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana, closed in January 2023. Deschner’s piece about Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy was highlighted in In Her Hands, an invitational exhibition that focused on progressive women politicians at Robert Mann Gallery, NYC, through summer 2018. In 2019 and 2020, her work was selected for inclusion in two Kris Graves Project publications, Not Wrong No 2Solace and On Death: the book. In December 2019, she was selected by the Montana Arts Council as an Artist Innovation Award recipient, and in 2022 received a $10,000 ARPA grant.
Deschner earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2001. After growing up in Kansas, she moved to Montana in 1977 where she currently lives. In addition to being a mixed media artist, she works as an exhibition installer, graphic designer, photographer, curator, instructor and picture framer.