Over the past two years, I have been working on a long-term endeavor called the latchkey project. I start with vintage 1970s dolls. The girls are encased in plaster and painted over in bleeding faded inks. I then take macro photographic portraits of the plaster girls and with these images create collages on canvas and glass. Some of the girls are shiny and brittle; others are bleached and torn. All have their own names and personalities.
The latchkey project gives voice to the “Gen X" generation of latchkey kids, described as one of the least parented least nurtured generations in U.S. history. For children who were otherwise generally invisible, house keys (the “latchkeys”) worn around the neck were a highly visible signifier of latchkey status. Growing up in the late 70's and early 80's – a period of escalating Cold War tension, high crime in the cities, Love Canal-style environmental disasters, Satanic Panic, record divorce rates and increasing (and well publicized) fear of child abductions – these children were simultaneously independent and self-reliant and yet completely subject to the vagaries and desires of the adults around them. There was no supervised daycare; no after-school programs; no cell phone, cable tv, or computers – children were left in the extended care of the “electronic babysitter” – the television. Like the tube TVs they watched in darks rooms late into the night, my girls' shimmering violent colors flicker behind screens of smoke and glass-- a radioactive landscape.