Away is Home, Home is Away

The exhibit Away is Home, Home is Away started out as a student project in 1997 during my time at Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle. An attempt to document the Seattle my third eye was fascinated by in 1993 when I first got there. And how quickly I learned to love what I saw! I didn’t want to portray the postcard images but the details and the culture of this 3.7-million city who kindly welcomed me. Later, I was commissioned by the Nordic Heritage Museum to show my Swedish environment with the same eye. It was obviously an impossible mission. Being the seventh generation in a small Västerbotten village my eyes were inherited with feelings and information I hadn’t always chosen myself. But my homecoming after a long period of time in Seattle appeared to give me unexpected help.

Many who by choice and with a positive outcome have traded their country and culture for a period have similar experiences. Coming home can be difficult. No one really in depth wants to hear about your experience. No one wants to know who you have become. There is a new loneliness in what has always been familiar, home is forever changed. You rub your eyes and hope that the well-known pieces will fall into place. But the chafe behind the eyelids is still there.

Being in that place, I took out my Rolleiflex. And in the viewfinder I found what I needed to see. The tall evening shadows. The reflections. The newborn summer. The quite winter. The idyllic rural landscape. Photographing with an outsider’s eye became my inner eye’s  yearning for peace in my ambivalence. While the pictures from Seattle is photographed in newfound passion, the Västerbotten images are originated from the loss of an uncomplicated first love.

Away is home, home is Away. Longing and missing. Torn apart and enriched.

Maria Stolterman

The exhibit was produced commissioned by the Nordic Heritage Museum Seattle, on display fall 2002. The Västerbottens Museum in Umeå displayed the show winter 2007.

Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle

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Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle

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