May 3 - July 5, 2019

Deborah Orloff

Elusive Memory

In America, the photographer is not simply the person who records the past, but the one who invents it ... – Susan Sontag

Do you really remember your past, or have you simply seen the photographs so many times, you believe you retain those memories? The relationship between photography and memory is complicated; it is dubious at best. I have always been fascinated with family photos and have collected them most of my life. Recently, I’ve been drawn to the abandoned pictures that were relegated to my parents’ basement. These once precious objects have been neglected and forgotten. Inadvertently exposed to water, heat, and humidity, they have undergone a powerful transformation. My new work utilizes these severely damaged pictures as subject matter. Elusive Memory explores the significance of vernacular photographs as aesthetic objects and cultural artifacts. The resulting photographs make commonplace objects monumental and emphasize their unique details. In their final representation, these banal objects become simulacra of loss and speak to the ephemeral nature of memory. -Deborah Orloff

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Deborah Orloff is a Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Art at the University of Toledo. She teaches all levels of Photographic Art at UT’s Center for Visual Arts, and has been a professional artist for over 20 years. Originally from New York City, Orloff received her MFA from Syracuse University and her BFA from Clark University. Although her primary medium is photography, she has also worked in video and installation. Her artwork has been included in numerous exhibitions at national and international venues including: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Toyohashi Museum of Art & History in Toyohashi, Japan; and the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her current series, Elusive Memory, was included at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography as part of their Midwest Photographers Project. Deborah Orloff has been the recipient of dozens of grants and awards including corporate sponsorship by Hahnemühle Paper and the Ohio Arts Council’s 2019 Individual Excellence Award. Samples of her work can be seen at