John Paul Floyd and Stephanie Dowda's current show at Young Blood Gallery,Time Line, is steeped in nostalgia and familial history. Using a box of negatives shot by a grandfather that Floyd never met, the team combines photographs, wood, found objects, and thread to reach into a past that seems both real and imagined. We caught up with them last week and asked them a few questions about their work.
Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you? Where are you from and where do you live now? What's your day job?
John Paul Floyd (JPF): Im originally from Stone Mountain Georgia, went to school at Georgia State University and now reside in Cabbagetown. Im about to turn 30 years old this month. I work as an art installer and photography assistant in the Atlanta area. Most recently I am working with the Atlanta Botanical Garden to de-install the Henry Moore exhibition.
Stephanie Dowda (SD): Im from Atlanta, born in midtown area and grew up in and around the city. I went to Georgia State too. We live together in Cabbagetown with our doggies. Im 27. I work in finance, yeah, dont ask its complicated.
When did you start working on Time Line?
JPF: While visiting my Memas house in New Haven Kentucky, I was looking through her old family photos. I started photographing the old photos and my Mema mentioned she had something I would really like. She came back to me with a box full of old family negatives mostly shoot by my Grandfather, he died before I was born. I thought it was interesting to see my family through his eyes, since I never met him, it was compelling to learn about his life and my mothers life through what he captures in these images.
SD: I think the experience of seeing these negatives in light of being able to identify JPFs family, the people and the places they grew up, connects to things I explore through my work. It is amazing to go through these beautiful images and appreciate them not only because it documents life in such a loose and fun way, but because it speaks to what we all want; our lives to last forever.
Can you explain the process for creating one of these objects?
JPF/SD: Its amazingly almost entirely collaborative, we talk and bounce ideas off each other throughout the whole process. At first, we literally look through the family negatives for an image that speaks to us. There are tons of images, so its fun to just go through the box and hold up the negative to the light to see what is revealed. Once one of us is excited about an image we start to think about what the photo is telling us.
SD: I like to imagine that the moment the photograph captures has its own life. That somewhere in time the moment is still happening. I think that helps make a connection it to the present .
JPF: I look for images that I wish I would have taken; an image that matches my own photo aesthetic or shooting style. I also like images that seem so everyday, a universal image that everyone has in their family photo album.
JPF/SD: We then just start working; scanning, printing, sewing, typing and cutting. We both review the image in stages and add things as we see the photograph needs. Its a simply process, it just find of flows between each of us.
Your last show, This Time, also focused on themes of time and memory. What compels you to focus on time in your work?
JPF/SD: Its really what photography is all about. Capturing time, freezing an image forever, proving the existence of someone or proof of an event. Photography is about capturing life. We strive to capture a moment or feeling and we are interested in how the feeling can be carried in a photograph throughout time.
What's the Palifox Legend?
SD: While traveling to Memas house in Kentucky we stopped at a junk shop in some little town. We were going through the books and found one titled, Proof of My Return, by John Palifox Key. Inside the book were diagrams and lengthy explanations about time travel. We thought it was an amazingly beautiful book. We went up to the cashier and the cashier wouldnt let us purchase the book. She said there had been a mistake and it wasnt supposed to be on the shelf. We offered her double and triple what it originally cost but she wouldnt budge.
JPF: Its the key to time travel, everyone wants to go back in time.
More information about John Paul Floyd and Stephanie Dowda can be found at their website, The Palifox Legend.
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