Elke Morris (b. 1958)
Morris is a lecturer in the Art and Visual Culture Department at Bates. Recently, her works have included a series of iris prints depicting Lewiston architecture in a new light.
Currently, her work is also on display in the Bates Faculty exhibtion in the Bates Gallery of the Museum of Art.
Response by Jane Costlow
Environmental Studies, Russian
"The picture is taken in downtown Lewiston, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Maine. These are the streets no one wants to look at, or acknowledge: urban blight, generations of poverty, the backside of the American dream. And here the photographer asks us to look for a while at this place, to meditate on its form and promise. The house to the left is a version of the American dream, with its picket fence and shade tree just coming into leaf. The green tree, the tiny band of grass on the right, the puffy-cloud-perfect-sky: there’s something resilient here, nature that just won’t go away, regardless of how close we build the houses. But what of the place’s emptiness? – only garbage bags and hung-out laundry to suggest people live here. It’s a mix of emotions that shape my response to the picture: the stubborn, vacant optimism; the flat blankness of shared space, and an uncanny harmony of greens, that finally draws me into the picture – I can’t keep standing here on the edge – as the doorways recede into deeper ground, drawing us back toward that pale lime facade in the distance. Emptiness? Hope? Illusion? Or just a sunny early summer day when everyone’s inside watching TV?"