May 29, 2024

Professor Deddo’s “How the Morning Itself Appears” Explores Grief and Memory

Emma Feria 25'

Photo Courtesy of Gordon College Instagran

The opening reception and artist talk for Art Professor Gregory Deddo mixed media series “How the Morning Itself Appears’ ‘ opened on November 6th at 5 pm. Deddo’s work is a fifteen piece collection of artwork evoking time, place and narrative. His work draws heavily on imaging technologies including photographs, videos on box TVs and AI, as references or heavily incorporated into oil and acrylic paintings.  

Introduced by Professor Foster, Professor Deddo prefaced his work with “Every Morning”, a contemplative poem by Mary Oliver, setting the tone for the work that viewers will experience. Deddo wanted viewers to get a sense of entering a space, advocating for the perception of his artwork as communication between the artist and the viewer rather than needing expert knowledge to understand a piece. He invited viewers to recognize connections and elements that may resonate or strike the viewers as unsettling.  

Deddo’s series began during his time in undergrad with a curiosity of memory, particularly because memory is “fallible, shifting and failing”. In the act of photography, are we slowly becoming less of ourselves? Much of his work explores this through the physical blurring of images from snapshots of family photographs, videos and surreal, dreamlike landscapes. He explored the concept of memory replacing images through digitized family albums and wondering about their stories, “what it means to be a body in space”.  

When looking through these digitized family albums, Deddo noted that there were many photographs of experiences that he had no memory of, leading him to contemplate the “existential threat of the act of forgetting. While he shared that the process was more intuitive for larger pieces that were paintings of images, these forgotten experiences were able to morph into something distinctly mournful, juxtaposing the sense of loss and the act of recovery. Yet, memories of trauma or pain are sometimes better forgotten, noting that “the right to forget is healing at times”.  

Through photos, images replace experience, which are silent and miniaturized compared to memories. While there is some truth to photographs, they often become reductionistic, allowing us to construct more flattering narratives about ourselves. Photographs also build memories through third person and we objectify ourselves in this way, losing something inherent to personhood.  

He discusses this photographic imagination that we have, as we are always photographable, which can lead to a sense of hyper-self awareness and a sense of being watched. In other words, there is always the potential to be turned into images. This can lead us to “create pretty lies” or propaganda of ourselves; using objective photographs to weave more flattering narratives than the present reality.  

We can become overwhelmed by images, which can make it difficult to imagine a broader, bigger world, reality constructed as worshiping images. He discusses the dual nature of photos, which are seen as objectively distinct and not seen as needing to be interpreted compared to other mediums like paintings.  

Deddo also connected his artwork to his children, noting how the digital revolution and access to smartphones have made access to photographs so immediate. He admitted to not letting his kids immediately review photos that he took of them. This in turn made him more drawn to candid photos, which are harder to decipher with richer, preferring “bad candids” over good ones.  

Ultimately, Deddo’s work explores ambivalence, faith and longing, as these are fractured and at odds with ourselves. “To be a person is to be in flux”. His work questions what we put our faith in and the fallibility of technology, rooted in a sense of longing inherent in the human condition. Deddo noted that we long to be seen well and see well, festering a deep inconsolable cosmic ache that we don’t fully belong on Earth. Deddo’s work seeks to find comfort in the uncertain and ambiguity of our lives.  

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