This article was originally published by the Portland Museum of Art Blog on April 28, 2015 and was written by Jessica May. In this touching episode of The Backstory, photographer Rose Marasco narrates the moments that brought her to Utica, New York in 1988 to photograph the Saint Rosalie Feast—and how that project affected her life and photographic career.
Over the past forty years, Rose Marasco has built a photographic career that offers an extraordinary narrative about the transformative power of art. Rose Marasco: index brings that career together at the Portland Museum of Art in the artist's first-ever retrospective.
The exhibition highlights the vitality, dynamism, and overall spirit of American photography in the post-war period, when artists were turning away from the idea that a single print was the summation of artistic excellence, and instead thinking about how photographs could tell stories—how they could move us, make us think, and appeal to our ideas of what the world could be, as well as what it is.
Marasco is not only one of the finest narrative photographers in the country and beloved artists in Maine, but also an eloquent storyteller in her own right. In preparation for Rose Marasco: index, I sat down with Rose as she walked us through the milestones of her life's work. In this poignant and touching excerpt from those interviews (which became the catalogue Rose Marasco: index, available here), Rose reflects on her Catholic roots and upbringing in Utica, New York, and how the knowledge of oneself as an artist is inextricably tied to the past, as well as one's work.
Visiting Artist Rose Marasco
DATE: 07.25.2016 - 07.26.2016
TIME: 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM
LOCATION: New Hampshire Institute of Art, French Building, 148 Concord St, Manchester, NH
Visiting Artist Rose Marasco
July 25, 2016 7PM
New Hampshire Institute of Art French Building Auditorium, 148 Concord St, Manchester, NH.
The lecture on July 25th at 7 pm is open to the public
In the Fall of 2016, during the middle of my exhibition index, at the Portland Museum of Art, I decided it would be a good idea to go to Japan, a place I have always wanted to visit. I normally do not go away and photograph but I thought I might try making some photographs of nature while there.
This came out of seeing my own 1987 Gilsland Farm photos on exhibit at the PMA — large square medium format mural photographs (see last 4 photos in Maine), I got out my Rolleiflex camera and bought some 120 size, color and black & white film. I also shot with my iphone and a plastic 35 mm for fun. Upon return, as I suspected, I liked the black & white medium format results the best. I also developed the film at home and cleaned up my make-shift basement darkroom enough to make contact sheets and small work prints.
The darkroom! I had forgotten how much fun it truly is; and how physically engaging it felt to work in this familiar manner. Not since the early 1990's in making the 4x5 inch Maine Grange exteriors and later, in the detail composites of the interiors (see Maine Grange) have a seriously shot in black & white.
In assessing the Japan photographs, I thought — well, ok nature / Maine / I think I'll go for a walk...
I am continuing to explore my adopted home state of Maine and I am totally enjoying the process. I also continue the work on NYC pinhole photographs, color negative 4x5 inch film, filling in the areas I have not covered geographically and reassessing what I need to do to finish this project.
I was awarded the Sarah Orne Jewett Award from the Maine Women’s Fund for my accomplishment as a photographer and educator.
Other grantees include: Melissa Sweet, for her children’s book illustrating; Women of the Commons, for revitalizing historic buildings in Eastport, Maine as arts spaces; and, Julia Sleeper, for creating Tree Street Youth, a space for teens to engage in art and activities in Lewiston, Maine.