Thoughts on Romance from the Road is a project that uses photography to document text interventions on roadside marquee signs. I place phrases on movie and motel marquee signs, many of which I find through research but also in the course of my frequent long distance travel by car. I use my own sign letters and then leave the scene with the words left intact upon the sign. Before I depart, I make a photograph from the sidewalk or roadside. I then make large-scale color prints as documents of the sign in its environment. The photograph becomes the sole remnant of the project as the letters inevitably disappear or are taken down. The work addresses the effect of media and technology upon human memory and desire.
In its brief existence, each sign installation is read by an audience comprised mostly of people in cars or by roadside foot traffic. The experience of the viewer seeing the work in the context of the outside world of roads, signs and billboards is important to me. I am interested in viewers encountering my work in spaces they expect to see advertising or propaganda. The text phrases are the voice of an individual, deliberately personal yet sounding mysteriously familiar through the fragmented vernacular used within the spectacle of advertising. I use language that references aspirations toward contentment and fulfillment linked to promises of desire and romance provided by the realm of commodity and entertainment. My texts are formulated to read as regurgitation of that, as though they are public diary entries pertaining to banal realities of self and relationships based on comparison with an ideal.
In a gallery space the work is presented as large color prints and looped video documentation of the installations of the signs that existed in public for a limited period of time.
Whether or not an altered sign lasts out in the world for longer than a few days depends upon who owns the property where each sign is located. Whenever possible I obtain permission, if I can locate a property owner. If I cannot do so I will most likely use it anyway, knowing that the installation could be more short-lived than in the opposite case. But I never know precisely what will happen or how long the installations will remain intact.
Ms. Crayhon’s work has been exhibited, published and collected both internationally and throughout the United States. Her work has been featured in publications such as British Journal of Photography, the Christian Science Monitor, Fraction Magazine, La Journal de la
Photographie, Fade to Black, Art/Photo Magazine, and the New York Times.
It is also included in museum, corporate and private collections, among them The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Harvard/Fogg Art Museums, and Citigroup in NYC. Her projects have been exhibited in solo and group shows in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Providence, and Vladivostok in the Russian Federation. Using photography and video, her work addresses issues of personal identity and desire existing within the framework and ideology of social, commercial and/or technological realms.
Recent grants include a Fulbright Scholarship in 2011 and The 2010 Aaron Siskind Fellowship in photography from Rhode Island State Council of the Arts. Ms. Crayhon is an Associate Professor of Photography at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.