Molly Lamb

BY Jean Dykstra, September 1, 2016

As a photojournalist for city newspapers, Molly Lamb was used to photographing other people’s stories. It didn’t occur to her that it might be interesting to photograph her own. Perhaps that’s because her story contains a fair amount of loss: over the years, many family members have passed away, and Lamb has inherited their belongings. Her home is now filled with objects, images, and trinkets that once belonged to those people, and she has made them – and their aura, so to speak – the subject of her work.

Her photographs, which make use of reflective surfaces and shadows, are like palimpsests, one layer giving way to another, meaning multiplying and shifting. It’s not surprising that Lamb also writes poetry, that most indirect and allusive of literary forms. When work from three of her series – Ghost Stepping, Let It Go, and Take Care of Your Sister – is on view at Rick Wester Fine Art from September 15 through November 19, selections of her poetry will be on view as well.

Her poem Take Care of Your Sister is littered, like her pictures, with references to nature – moths, cicadas, dirt, fields, birds, berries, and leaves. Lamb says she thinks of the natural elements in her pictures as characters in a story, similar to the items she photographs – a bundle of keys, an old snapshot of a child’s communion dress, an open book with an illustration of a crow, which she photographed in the grass. The boundary between indoors and outdoors, nature and culture, blurs in her photographs: what might be half a dozen moths against a screen are actually delicate origami birds. The faint image of a child hovering mid-air, back-flipping into a pool, is projected onto a wood-paneled doorway, like a fleeting memory of a summer’s day.

Memory  – in all of its slippery elusiveness – is the current running through all three of these series. It’s how we built the narrative of our lives, but it’s also partial and equivocal, much like Lamb’s photographs.