ARTIST STATEMENT Using the dark rich palette of the 15th century Flemish painters, this series of photographic still lifes portrays rotting fruit, dead animals in repose and ephemera like candle smoke. These are the symbols of the Vanitas painters, whose opulent assemblages served to remind the viewer of the fleeting quality of life and all its entertainments and accomplishments. In my work, these objects embody my reckoning with the passing of my own youth, a passage of death and rebirth that contemporary culture by and large fails to recognize or celebrate. The unabashed gaze at death in this series serves as a visual counterpoint to the death-denying, youth-worshipping culture that pours into our consciousness from the popular culture: advertising fetishizes youth, plastic surgery creates artificial ingenues from those who should be doyennes, and medical procedures prolong life and rob death of its dignity. While around me the thrust is to cling to the blossom of life, I am interested in the fruit, the decay of the fruit, which ultimately yields a new seed. My work approaches death and decay with a gentle awe as well as the mournful loss evoked by even the kindest change. In this sense, the animal portraits among these pictures harken back to Victorian Memorial portraits, where a loved one was often photographed in the coffin. To the modern, death denying eye, these death portraits can appear grotesque; but to the 19th century eye, they represented the loved one in a state of grace, having gone on to a better world. Thus by portraying the death of innocent woodland creatures, I mean to suggest the cusp of a new phase of development, a maturity beyond the naivete of youth. I hope that by portraying death as a peaceful finality and decay as irrevocable yet sensuous, that these images invite the viewer to contemplate mortality, loss of youth, and all the inevitable change that life brings with a sense of acceptance and serenity. Sentimental Journey was chosen for the NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) Grant in 2004.