She was there.

But we soon found ourselves also turning backward, for the beautiful faces and songs that lift us forward onto new ground keep calling out to us as well, inciting us to rediscover and recover them in whatever new thing gets made. -Elaine Scarry

Dear Readers,

I have begun a series of drawings titled “She was there.”

Many moons ago, I worked in libraries and archives. My job consisted of a simple, menial task: to either file or retrieve items for researchers. Nonetheless, I found solace in university Humanities, Fine Arts, and Music collections for a period of twelve years. This was long before my interest in academe or life writing. The archive is where I first allowed my creative imagination to unfold.

Archival lives held within photographs inspired me.

For this series, I produce drawings of my favourite jazz musicians, visual artists, and writers and poets from archival photographs. I also examine my own familial photographic archive in these works. By inserting my present self in the drawn images, I figuratively go back in time to recreate a life narrative. The drawings, like the original photographs, are staged events. Yet their meanings are literal. And the conversations; the translations between the actors in the photographs and the players in the drawings, are as tangled as they are seamless.

Thank you for listening. This project is permanent.

Yours in drawing,


May 23, 2017

Part of what makes the archive a complex text is that it is a fragmentary piece of knowledge, or an unfixed and changing piece of knowledge. Archives build: as they grow…the knowledge they produce will alter the way we read archival subjects in general, and gender in particular. -Marlene Kadar