I have created “Stories from the Kitchen Table” to preserve and honor a fading way of life in my childhood home.
Going home for me means traveling back to my family’s old farmhouse in a small village in Germany. It is the last remaining untouched house in the town. Going home evokes many different emotions. Most powerful is my need to document my childhood home, the people who passed through, and what one day soon will be left behind.
As a child, I spent hours alongside my family in the yard and family fields. There were flowers everywhere, beautifying the grounds and tables, etched into pottery, stitched into fabric and clothes. My grandmother taught me games and stories with flowers and how to create flower-like sculptures from cut dandelion stems.
When I visit, I absorb the ingredients of home: the flavors of dishes that are so familiar, and the same furnishings, photographs, knick-knacks, and worn kitchen tools, there since well before I was born. Most of all, the very essence of home for me is gathering around the kitchen table to sit down to a meal with family and friends and share stories old and new.
In “Stories from the Kitchen Table,” some of my composites include old family photos combined with what I see today when I return home. I add flowers and fragmented images of fabric: these dish towels, tablecloths, napkins, and decorative wall hangings dating back to 1799, were passed down from generation to generation.
I create my images not only to keep these tales alive in my memory but also to honor my family, especially the women who lived and worked under the roof of this farmhouse.
Photographer Astrid Reischwitz’ latest portfolios have transitioned to a personal and more conceptual perspective. “Stories from the Kitchen Table” explores her heritage and the meaning of home. In “The Bedroom Project” she creates intimate portraits, bringing personal spaces into public view. In “The Gift of Regret” she turns the camera inward in an exploration of her own history and values. An earlier portfolio, “Street Art,” reflected outward towards street art murals and the diversity of urban life.
Solo exhibitions of Street Art include: the Griffin Museum of Photography, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University (NEO), Firehouse Center for the Arts Newburyport, Munroe Center for the Arts Lexington, and Boston Public Library. The Bedroom Project was featured at Danforth Art Museum and Cambridge Art Association (CAA). Expectations, an earlier black and white series focusing on the shapes of pregnant women, was exhibited at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord MA.
Reischwitz’s photographs have appeared in juried group exhibitions at the Danforth Museum of Art, Off the Wall and New England Photography Biennial; CAA National Prize Show, Red, Blue (Best in Show), and Platinum (Best in Show); Photo Place Gallery VT (Jurors’ Choice Award); Gallery Seven, Maynard MA; Bedford (MA) Free Public Library; Brush Gallery Lowell MA; Concord Art Association (Prize for Best Photography), Frances N. Roddy Open Competition (Third Prize); Houston Center for Photography; Vermont Center for Photography; Catamount Arts, St. Johnsbury VT; The Curated Fridge, Boston MA; Massachusetts Convention Center with Photographic Resource Center Boston; and DeCordova Museum School Gallery, Lincoln MA. She received a Silver Medal Award in the San Francisco International Photography Exhibition and was selected as one of Top 100 for Review Santa Fe Photo Festival. She is a Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist and Finalist at the 2016 International Portfolio Competition, Soho Photo Gallery.
Her photographs have been published in the Boston Globe, the Lexington Minuteman, the Newburyport Current, the Bedford Minuteman, Armenian Weekly, and other publications. Her work was also published online on LensCulture and appeared on Lenscratch, What Will You Remember, and 3200K online blogs, as well as Cambridge Art Association blog and Echoes of Pop in the New Millennia blogspot. Her portfolio “Stories from the Kitchen Table” is featured on Syracuse University’s Family.Life.Project webpage.
Reischwitz is a graduate of the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, with a PhD in chemistry.