You may have noticed a particular trend in Facebook profile pictures. Beautiful, high-contrast photos set against a unique retro wallpaper background have become a ubiquitous siting on Facebook, and this is thanks to local photographer, Keisha Register. Register explains her unique (ongoing) project to us, and gives us a slice of local life in today’s Person of Interest. Tonight, Register is hosting a fundraiser for the project at The Gray Owl in Norman. The event features live music by Seth McCarroll, Brine Webb, and DAD (Reese Truesdell and Michael Loveland). Head out to Gray Owl tonight and show your support for this community-building project.
What is the inspiration behind your wallpaper photography series?
The inspiration for the series originated from a personal loss in my life, which lead to an obsession with post-mortem and death mask portraiture from the late 1800’s. Along the way, little trinkets of fate have aligned to make this project come together – especially finding the right wallpaper, the one that reminded me of my grandmother. As the project grew, I found new inspiration in the community and all the beautiful diversity that has come together in a place like Norman.
Sum up the artist statement for your project.
My hope with this project is to bring the community together – young and old, black and white, gay and straight. These are your neighbors. We enrich this community together and we share this journey from cradle to grave. And if we’re very lucky, we will be remembered by those who loved us.
Top five favorite local bands?
In no particular order: Luna Moth, Penny Hill, DAD, Seth McCarroll, and Caravact. But there are so many other lovely musicians in Norman, I wish I could mention them all…
Top five favorite non-local bands?
John Prine, Lou Reed, Nina Simone, The Giving Tree Band , and LCD Soundsystem
Top five favorite films?
To Kill a Mockingbird, Korean films, Star Wars, Star Wars, and Star Wars- the old ones.
Top five favorite artists/artistic influences?
Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Francesca Woodman, Mathew Barney, and postmortem portraiture
Wild Hare Beadery, Gray Owl Coffee, the Deli, the Opolis and the Library.
Favorite local restaurant?
Pink Elephant, the Earth, Pepe’s, La Luna, and Victoria’s
Describe your wallpaper photography series in detail. What’s next for you after this project is complete?
The series is a collection of portraits taken of Normanites and others who have passed through town and enriched the community with their creativity. The encounter may be short lived, with shoots lasting only 5 to 10 minutes sometimes, and it is in that small window that I am given a chance to physically connect with each model. Later on, during the editing process, I spend hours selecting the perfect image – going over every detail of their face, expression and posture. It is in those moments that I try to emotionally connect with my models. While the physical connection is brief, the emotional connection will always exist. This project is forever evolving and I have been privileged to see how a community who may or may not have been connected before, have been drawn together with the common thread of this wallpaper series project. What started as a small project of portraits of my Norman “family”- Tammy and Curtis Jones- has now been widened to include scholars, business owners, musicians, artists, children, and both former & temporary inhabitants of Norman. My goal is to continue to photograph and document the growth of all these individuals every five years.
We are still working on completing this project for the upcoming show at FIVE, in Norman – and we are putting on a number of fundraising shows with silent auctions to help make this dream a reality.
August 12th, from 8pm to 10pm at Gray Owl Coffee
September 1st from 9pm to 2am at The Deli
September 17th from 8pm to 1am at The Opolis
We will be raising money through Kickstarter as well and it should be up by the beginning of next week. And, we will be creating a catalog/ book of the hundreds of individuals that have participated in this project.
View the photographer in action in this beautiful video that details the project and the process: