March 12, 2004

Pennsylvania Dutch Gothic

In the spring of 1954 I began to make a series of photographs of myself dressed in silver foil. The first time we shot the photographs at Orchard Hill Farm it was a glorious spring day. The intense sunshine, new red and acid-green foliage on the maple trees, and the deep purple iris opening in the garden contributed to an atmosphere of gaiety as we created the family portraits. We walked from the old front porch with its two front doors to the herb garden, the barn and other out buildings, and finally to the pasture, creating tableaus as we went. I, however, performing in foil, felt like a baked potato, roasting in the hot sun. Everyone joked about the aroma the costume and I were generating as we posed for several variations of Pennsylvania Dutch Gothic, my aberrant version of Grant Wood’s famous painting.

When I began creating the “Foil Man Performances” in 1954 they were like a nervous habit and I didn’t know what I was doing or why. I just felt the need and fortunately my family went along with me. However, looking back on the performances today I know that they have many levels of meaning; psychological, sexual, and cultural.

I will write more about the performances in the future, dear journal.

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