We all have childhood memories that influence us. My earliest and most riveting came from staring at old photos belonging to my Grandmother. The power of a weathered photograph to inflame my imagination and spark connections to strangers was intoxicating. Later, as a part of the “MTV generation,” I was captivated by the emotional stirrings of music videos and sound bites. And as popular media was impacting my mind, life experiences were shaping my conscience. Growing up as a bisexual woman in the Deep South and having a brother with Down Syndrome meant that I personally witnessed the consequences of marginalization. Then, further experiences such as parenting and the deaths of loved ones, broadened the topics of my work beyond the socio-political arena. This history of experiences channels itself through me, and manifests as a motivation to create socio-political work utilizing the influential mediums of photography, video and installation. I strive to give the viewer an emotional spark like the ones I have experienced. My intent is to connect them to the complexities of political issues surrounding sexuality, gender, feminism and the labeling of individuals; as well as with more universal topics such as grief, loss, and interpersonal relationships. I feel a responsibility to be a “ripple in the water,” and produce visual work that promotes social change and awareness.
- Tonia Hughes