CHUNG 24 GALLERY
Gallery Hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 1:30 - 6pm or By Appointment
Address: 4071 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Liz Steketee Solo Exhibition
curated by Ann Jastrab
May 24 - July 22, 2023
Ann Jastrab, 2023
What seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality was only 2010, Liz Steketee was an artist-in-residence at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco where I was the gallery director. I still remember her images, family portraits and self-portraits and portraits of ancestors in all types of photographic mediums, from tintypes to carte-de-visites to c-prints and more. But this was the strangest family album I’d ever seen…screaming graduates, a surly baby batman, reluctant brides…digital composites brilliantly reproduced to become a falsified family history. I’ve watched Liz since then, never knowing what wonders would come from her studio. And luckily for me, Liz is my neighbor and I can walk around the block and see the magic and the madness anytime.
When Diane Chung asked me to curate a show of Liz Steketee’s work, I was honored, but also I wondered how it would be possible to distill down the decades of diverse work and the dozens of projects that Liz has produced to make one small solo show that speaks of the depth of the artist’s sheer talent and the incredible strength of her seeing, making, and creating. As I beat the path to her house, I thought of the extraordinary sculptural pieces that Liz had created for the recent Center for Photographic Art Artist Grant Exhibition. The hundreds of wrapped and sewn rocks, grouped and piled, images of loved ones, totems really. The sticks, some burned from one of the devastating California wildfires, some gathered by her father’s own hands, some big enough to use as walking sticks, some small enough to hang together in “families” of 3 or 4 or 5 to tell the story of some piece of Liz’s history. This series, Wrapped, was an exploration of photography as a sculptural and sacred object. The process of wrapping then sewing the fabric permanently around the object, acted as a meditation on memory, loss, and the cycle of life. This series was born of earlier projects shown in this room: Traces featuring the back sides of sewn photographs from the artist’s life - memories drawn in thread, and Sewn, Liz’s never ending and always growing project, an almost blissful (for me) continuation of the RayKo residency work, but this time overtly connecting two or more disparate pictures with thread and stitching them together. And then there is the work that breaks me: Entangled. These pieces were inspired by her father’s long battle with Alzheimer’s and his eventual passing last year. Grief is a journey and the artist has brought us along to witness the sadness, the beauty, the process, the pain…what it really means to mend. Though we are only sharing a small selection of collaged photographs from this ongoing project, the artist has created a unique installation of tangled memories connected by red threads. It’s the fragility and chaos of life, of love, of family. It’s everything and it’s all inextricable.
As ever, when I look at Liz’s work, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for having seen it and experienced it. It is a privilege to spend time in her studio and in this gallery. To see how her creations are intertwined, to discover how one project links to the next and overlaps with the last, gives birth to the future. This show, though titled Remnants, is more than that. It is everything.