|Wished to be the Moon
|Artist / Creator
|Place of Publication
|Number of Images
|5 original photographs
|Structure / Binding
|Mixed media box, hinged in one place
|Medium / Materials
|Wooden box, acrylic lifts of original photographic images, antique photos, hair, bones, butterflies, antique porcelain figure, bottle
|8 x 9 x 1.5 inches closed
|Signed & Numbered
|Signed by the artist
Smith tells us:
Wished to be the Moon is a box about longing, and about the untraversable chasm between the present and the past. This work is from my Ghost Ships series.
Legend has it, that the Octavius, a three-masted schooner, was found adrift by a whaling boat in October of 1775. A search party of five from the whaler climbed aboard the Octavius and discovered the entire crew of 28 fully dressed and frozen at the helm. The captain was seated at his desk, pen in hand...also frozen. According to his log, last dated October of 1762, the Octavius had been lost at sea for over 13 years.
Similar stories exist of other derelict ships, discovered floating and directionless – some with crews in various states of decomposition, some devoid of human remains, but with dining tables set, the passengers’ personal belongings all intact.
I heard of the phenomenon of ghost ships for the first time last year while listening to a podcast called “Lore.” The notion of empty vessels, floating aimlessly in the ocean for years captured my imagination as much as the fact that so many explanations have been attempted to understand what happened to them.
This body of artwork is inspired by this idea, and is comprised of photographs and objects that position people as ghost ships – as vessels adrift, as impermanent, transient. I see my boxes as time capsules into which objects are placed adjacent to, or on top of photographic images. Frequently recurring visual referents to our inability to Know include blindness and fragmented text.
All images are shot on film. Many of the visual artifacts—such as staining and speckling are a result of chemical processes in the darkroom, though my photos are a mixture of analog and digital processes.
The objects contained within my boxes are found in various places. Some are garnered from estate sales, some are found on the ground…some are simply the bits and pieces that I’ve accumulated just by living my life.
Artist BioSmith Eliot is a visual artist and analog photographer, and has been creating mixed media artworks since 1986. Her work has been exhibited nationally, won numerous awards, and has been featured in photography publications such as Diffusion Magazine, The Hand, Shots, and B&W Magazine, as well as in literary journals such as Calyx. Smith graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, holds an MFA from SUNY, Buffalo, and currently teaches darkroom photography at the Portland and Clackamas Community Colleges. She has lived in cities all across the country, and was raised in Germany. In 1996 she landed in Portland, Oregon, and lives in a small house with a cob porch, an out-of-control alder tree, and three pesky cats.