“Matrilinear” is an ongoing series that addresses embodied memory and its relationship to personal, familial, and cultural identity. In mainstream Western culture, public forms of power are often passed down through patriarchal lines of heritage, along with dominant historical narratives that can socially condition peoples and shape identities. However, women have often interrupted this power and conditioning through traditions of storytelling and object sharing. These images examine family folklore, ritual, and mnemonic objects passed down through generations of women. The photographs of each object reveal the physical remnants of a body long gone; including stains, tears, and loose thread from clothing that was kept close to the body for comfort and protection. The stitching and/or photographic representations are both a visualization and an expansion of stories shared as family lore. These interruptions also represent the deep influence of one’s familial past on personal identity and perceptions of the body.
Elizabeth M. Claffey is an assistant professor of Photography at Indiana University in Bloomington. Her work focuses on the way personal and familial narratives are shaped by interactions with both domestic and institutional structures and spaces. She has been recognized by PDN Magazine, Project Basho Gallery, Abecedarian Gallery, The Eddie Adams Workshop, and various other galleries and publications including The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Dallas Morning News, and The Kinsey Institute. She was the recipient of a 2012-2013 William J Fulbright Fellowship, which she used to support her documentary and creative research in Eastern Europe.