1929

A long forgotten scrapbook caught my eye in a flea market one Sunday afternoon. The book was overstuffed and falling apart, but not a single image, playbill, card, or lock of hair was missing.  It was kept by a young Texas woman from 1924 to 1929. During this time she graduated from high school and moved to Denton, Texas where she attended the College of Industrial Arts (CIA), which was a pioneering institution of higher education for women in the state. The school later became my alma mater, Texas Woman’s University. For me the book is fascinating, romantic, enigmatic, fragile, and historic simultaneously and my mind enjoys imagining the story behind the fading photographs and ephemera found within the pages.

Her nickname was Bob and she studied English and received her teaching certificate. She was a carefree girl with an active sense of humor, and was coming of age during the roaring twenties. Bob and her friends were fashionable girls with the latest haircuts and a taste for the exotic, she also owned a camera. During the 20’s the snapshot had become so popular that the CIA “Policies and Regulations” advised students to avoid taking “Kodak pictures which would bring discredit to student or college...” Initially, I thought that she was a theater major because much of the ephemera found throughout the book were from plays and concerts, and she had a flair for the dramatic and loved dressing up.

Looking through the pages, I contemplate this woman’s life, and try to put together the story based on the fragments neatly collected and assembled in her red leather “Memory Book.” She graduated in May of 1929, and never made another entry in the book. Six months later Black Friday occurred, the stock market crashed, and the country sank into the Great Depression, followed by World War II. What happened to Bob, a farm girl from Texas, is unknown. The only chapters in her life story that remain, are her fun filled college years, when life held such promise.

All of the composites in this body of work are made from the pages of this scrapbook which were shot with a digital camera in natural light from a window. The photos, handwriting, and ephemera are then combined using Adobe Photoshop. The finished montages are printed approximately 12 x 17 inches in scale and presented in 20 x 24 inch window mats. The project is ongoing and there are currently about 25 finished images, and the “Memory Book” still has more to give.