Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin Statement

Artist Statement
In my work I photograph people who have a deep felt sense of tradition. For one year, beginning in the Autumn of 1999, I lived in the village Sârbi in Maramures, Romania. My research revealed this region to be unique amongst the former Soviet Bloc for the way it had preserved its way of life. A few valleys in Maramures escaped collectivized farming because of poor soil and hilly landscape. In the post cold-war period, preservation continues as modernity is slow to advance into these valleys of northern Romania.

But nothing will stand still forever. While the older generation still don winter footwear that pre-date the Romans, the younger generation flock to market to buy shoes bearing that ubiquitous swoosh of western manufacture.

My purpose is to capture and convey images of their way of life before it becomes further compromised by globalization. In our modern world, we often feel we have “lost” something important, something precious. Though they do not know it now, these peasants are losing their customs in the same way our forebears lost theirs. They do not see themselves as beautiful or special, because they feel poor and ordinary. But I hope to show they embody beauty because of the way they have spent their days walking paths trodden by their grandparents. Because of the way their lives have become well worn like an old wooden spoon.

Process Statement
All black and white images were taken with Kodak Tri-X film, hand developed by Kathleen with Kodak D-76. Camera used was a Mamiya 7 Rangefinder. Most color images were taken with a Mamiya 645AF, using Kodak Portra 800, shot at 400. Image 5 & 7 digitally captured with a Canon 5D. Image 11 is taken on Fuji Chrome with a Nikon 35mm camera. Kathleen prints all black and white images on Ilford Multigrade Fiber Paper, Glossy, 16x20. Color images are Archival Pigment Prints by Kathleen.

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