Holly Andres is showing her second major body of work, Sparrow Lane, at Quality Pictures Contemporary Art in Portland until August 2, 2008. Her first series, Stories from a Short Street, was exhibited at galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. as well as the Missoula Arts Museum. Her video work was included in the 2006 Oregon Biennial at the Portland Art Museum.
Sparrow Lane illustrates adolescent girls on the cusp of acquiring some forbidden knowledge, a metaphor for the transition from girl to woman. The photographic series is playful and mischievous, as the artist incorporates familiar and suggestive elements for their iconographic value, such as scissors, chrome flashlights, bird cages, and open drawers, doors, and windows. Andres often includes identical twins, a compelling conceptual tool suggesting counterparts and accomplices on this mutual path to discovery. The air of suspicion caused by the incomplete narratives encourages the viewers to come to their own conclusions surrounding the event taking place.
The eleven photographs in the series were shot using an 8×10 large format camera, emphasizing the artist’s use of rich color, texture, pattern, and chiaroscuro-like lighting. Andres is influenced by the legendary work of Alfred Hitchcock, and his use of certain cinematic and thematic conventions, such as highly theatrical lighting and the employment of several female protagonists. The artist also revisited Nancy Drew book covers to look at the body language of the characters, in particular their hand gestures. Andres observed how the girls’ hands frame the scene, the delicate separation of their fingers, and how their silky hair frames their lovely, startled faces.