If Your House Caught Fire

By: Roddy Mac Innes  

Representation and social justice is segregated on many levels, including generationally. My project recognizes senior members of society by presenting the opportunity to share life stories using family photographs as a catalyst. The project celebrates a broad diversity of senior citizens, whether living independently or in retirement communities. The project’s principal goal is to reveal common humanistic themes preserved within the record of family photographs. I invite participation by asking, “if your house caught fire and you could only bring one photograph, which one would it be?” The photograph becomes a catalyst for telling life stories. Through a process of re-photographing old photographs held by their owner, with accompanying, life-stories as text, and exhibited in a group, what may previously have been regarded as a-snapshots, containing meaning for a few, is transformed into art with communal appeal. Art is the only intermediary able to visually articulate such powerful emotional correlations. Photography, because of its magical ability to freeze time and mirror reality is the ubiquitous visual medium, and therefor, the perfect vehicle to articulate such a project.

Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Roddy Mac Innes

Associate Professor, School of Art and Art History, University of Denver, United States
Colorado, United States

Roddy MacInnes has been teaching photography at the University of Denver since 2001. He considers himself to be an autobiographical photographer, and in that capacity, has been documenting his life through photography for over five decades. He received an MFA in photography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a BA in photography from Edinburgh Napier University. His latest community engaged photography project was inspired by an album of photographs he discovered in an antiques mall in Denver, Colorado. A North Dakota woman made the photographs in 1917. Through this project Roddy explores issues surrounding the relationships between family photography and the construction of identity.