My work examines the longing for identity and the subsequent expectations associated with identity and memory. I question how identity is constructed through images, family, home, memory, and the miniature.

 My interest in the image as a ground of identity and memory stems from the personal struggle to understand and cope with my identity and past as an adopted child. At times, I see myself as living two separate lives. This feeling of separation, disconnection, and the recent reunification of my pasts have played an important role in my work. Growing up, I had always imagined my biological family. I developed a set of overtly idealized images. I contrived expectations of who and what they could be and kept these ideals as stand-ins for them. Finding my biological family left the conundrum of the stand-in versus the real. I found myself the questioning the replacements and thus asking again Who am I? In my artworks, I turned to images and their relationships to “originals.” The burden of longing for something at an unattainable distance in both memory and reality has been an important struggle within my work.

 I began working with the miniature farm set from my childhood and began taking photographs, often with dramatic and intense lighting. The translation of these photo-scenes to oil paint on panel unwound the knot of certain relationships that I wanted to address visually. I realized not only that identity was based on much more than biology but also that there was a different level of distance necessary to the penetration and manipulation of these issues than the microscopic. The set acts as a replacement not only for the childhood ideal memory but transcends that particular moment to stand for other instances. These methods of working with the miniature and photography allowed me to distance myself, yet at the same time create an idealized nearby place for my longing. © Kendra Bulgrin 2012