Dempsey Rice

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Dempsey Rice is the daughter of a therapist and an avid amateur photographer. Her parents taught her the power of listening and observing, recording and documenting. Through her work as a still photographer and filmmaker, she explores themes of connection, personal story, relationship and identity. Her current photographs are influenced by her own experience of motherhood. This body of work is tentatively titled: “We come from life. We are the conduit to other life.” She photographs with intent; making images that are about the mother-child relationship on the surface but that are also about seeing herself as a child again. Through these images she explores the family bond without shrinking from its darker elements: emotional uncertainty, physical discomfort and fear of abandonment. The process of making these images is about the integration and synthesis of family and work, past and present, childhood and motherhood. In addition, these photographs are a channel through which she can examine her interest in the family album as a historical form and as a psychological document. What role do family photographs play in our lives? What stories do we choose to preserve when we make an image and how do these images inform our memories? Is the family album a true representation of our personal histories? In the same way that her photographs are connected to the family album, her films are connected to family film and video. Her first documentary film, “Daughter of Suicide” (2000, 72 minutes, HBO), is a personal film about her mother’s life long struggle with depression, her eventual suicide and the impact of that suicide on her life. Making “Daughter of Suicide” introduced her to the power of using personal story to examine universal truths about the human experience.