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Passion Project

Anh-Minh Le | January 6, 2017 | Story Galleries and Performance National

For Brigitte Carnochan, the inspiration for her latest show came from an unlikely source: an eBay auction gone awry. The Portola Valley artist bid on an item advertised as a single envelope from the 19th century, postmarked Amherst, Mass., which she planned to incorporate into one of her works-in-progress. But what she received was a box filled with 73 letters handwritten by George Daniels to Edna Josephine MacInnis. Rather than complaining to the seller, she simply put the package away and didn’t give it much thought for another decade. When Carnochan finally went through the correspondences two years ago, she was captivated. The first note, dated 1929, was penned soon after the couple met; the last was authored in 1932, following their elopement. “It was such an innocent time,” says Carnochan. “The biggest thrill of all was a kiss on Terrace Hill, and that figured large in the letters for a while—that he’ll never forget that kiss on Terrace Hill. It was fascinating to read how the relationship progressed.” 

The missives are now an integral part of Carnochan’s exhibition Love & Kisses, George, which is on view from Jan. 7 through Feb. 28 at San Francisco’s Themes+Projects gallery. The show features two types of works: platinum prints that combine her photography and the letters (11-by-14-inch for $2,000, 16-by-20-inch for $3,200), as well as 12-by-12-inch mixed-media pieces composed with the original letters, paint and objects, such as a real butterfly ($900). “I like to have a narrative in my work; I like for it to have some deeper resonance,” says Carnochan. “I hope that some of the words and images will speak to [viewers] and will trigger their own experiences in a way that they can make a connection with it.” Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St., #205, San Francisco, 415.732.0300

Originally published in the January issue of
Silicon Valley

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