PhotographerKerry Mansfield
PrizeSilver in Fine Art / Still Life
Entry Description

The first rite of passage upon learning how to write one’s name was to inscribe it on a library check-out card promising the book’s safe journey and return. I remember reading the list of names that had come before me and feeling that I was a part of this book’s history and it’s shared, communal experience exposed by curly-Q handwritten names revealing repeat customers devouring the book beyond it’s deadline. An act of declaration that’s dissolving faster than we can see as cards are removed permanently and bar codes take their place. The Japanese term “wabi-sabi” is described as the art of finding beauty in imperfection and of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. Unlike the American culture focused on spectacle, wabi-sabi is underplayed and modest, the kind of undeclared beauty waiting patiently to be discovered. It’s found in time-worn faces of expired library books that have traveled through many hands, and across county lines until they have reached their final resting place at ex-library warehouses where safe harbors are found in Costco-sized rows of “discards” rising within inches of the ceiling.  Each picture serves as an homage calling out palpable echoes etched into the pages by a margin-scrawled note or a yellowed coffee splatter. They show the evidence of everyone that has touched them, because they were well read and well loved. Now they have a new life, as portraits of a unique shared experience found only in a library book. We must take time to celebrate the swiftly disappearing, unique communal experience offered by library books as it’s quickly replaced by downloads and finger swipes. If you listen carefully you can hear the aching poetry calling from tattered pages that carry the burden of their years with dignity and grace.

About Photographer

After getting a degree in photography from UC Berkeley, Kerry studied architecture at California College of the Arts (CCA) before returning to her passion of image making. While her medium of choice is the camera, the spaces created by man-made structures are most often her subject. Combining her two affinities was a natural progression in a seven-year project entitled "Borderline" that explores the boundary between interior and exterior spaces merging in a third plane. In 2005 her "Borderline" series came to a grinding halt due to a diagnosis of Breast Cancer. The battle to recover from the traumas of cancer focused her attentions on the nature of the physical body as a structure. Much like a hurricane ravages the landscape and the places we call home, chemotherapy ravages the body - the most fundamental of "homes". While issues of survival become paramount, the parallels between the structures we live in and the body we live within become startlingly clear. The resulting series, "Aftermath" chronicles that period in a direct and unflinching approach to the destruction and rebirth from the hurricane of Cancer.