Alice Hargrave

(American, b.1962; resides in Chicago, IL)

Alice Hargrave experiments with photographic processes to explore human relationships to the environment and within domestic spaces. Inspired by 19th century landscape photography and painting, she often works in misty color palettes to emphasize the act of photographing as one of translating rather than capturing. She highlights the camera’s inability to freeze time or to capture the moving world, using the medium as poetry instead of a tool to document place.

Many of Hargrave’s images mimic the look of Autochrome, an early color process developed in 1903 by the Lumière brothers.  It was a revelation in its time, even though it inaccurately translates color intensity, leaving many images washed in shades of brown with pops of vibrant blues, greens, and magentas. Through her use of in-camera exposure techniques and her careful alteration of color during post-production and the printing process, her pictures also recall the amber tone of Polaroids and the saturation of Kodachrome prints, two analog processes that further revolutionized color photography but have now, like the Autochrome, become obsolete. 

In her series, Untitled (family pictures) (2006-2014), and Untitled (expeditions) (2012-2015),  Hargrave alternates between photographing landscapes, interiors, and still lives to offer a very personal interpretation of family and home. The blurry and hazy pictures are often shot at dusk, evoking a dreamlike mood and emphasizing small details within dark shadows. Images of fragments of pink sunlight cast on a bare wall just before nightfall or a set of empty patio furniture at the end of the summer season before winter’s onslaught cause contemplation on the inability for moments to be truly documented or accurately remembered by the fleeting mind.

Alice Hargrave completed her BA from Tulane University (1984) and her MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago (1994). She has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (2016); Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR (2015); Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT (2000); The Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL (1998); McLean County Arts Center, Bloomington, IL (2013, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004); Art Metz, France (2007); and the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL (2000, 1998, 1991), among others. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago where she has taught since 1994.

Part of this text is excerpted from an essay written by Allison Grant, former Assistant Curator of Exhibitions and Education at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago for the publication, Alice Q. Hargrave: Paradise Wavering.