In this series, Daisy Patton uses American postmortem photography as a substratum for her paintings. These photographs are intended to commemorate the deceased and offer solace to those grieving. In the photographs Patton selects, ornate funeral parlor interiors and elaborate trappings—floral arrangements, religious symbols and decorative rugs—overwhelm the presence of a body.
Patton enlarges found black-and-white postmortem photographs taken in the late19th through mid-20th century and lavishly paints over them. Her application of shocking colors and extensive patterning vivifies the photographs. Raised painted surfaces appeal to the sense of touch and felt experience. Vines and floral motifs emanate from and enter into the bodies, suggesting cyclic journeys. Faces, folded hands and other photographic passages untouched by Patton’s brush bring into relief the corpse and personalize our relationship with the dead.
Given the immersive scale of Patton’s tableaux, viewers participate as mourners, both for those who have died and for our own movement toward death. This Is Not Goodbye encourages bereavement rituals and supports a public discourse on how we approach loss in American society.
This exhibition is curated by Sandra Q. Firmin.