Diana Cheren Nygren
EVOLUTION GRANT recipient fall 2021
During the isolation resulting from the pandemic, family has taken on a new centrality. Our connections to our ancestors and our descendants often feel stronger than connections to those around us. I often wish my children knew my grandparents. These are portraits of my children as the product of a history of lives lived and intertwined, each effecting and shaping the other. The images in this series are composites of my old family photographs, photographs I took of my children as they grew, and the New England landscapes in which my children and I grew up and became people. With these images, generations reach for each other across time. They are also, in many ways, self portraits. I exist in the tension of the space between those who came before me and those who will come after. They are driven by a longing for connection that makes real those things I hold dear. Though rooted in personal narratives, the pictures address a universal experience. They interrogate the way in which our family relationships and history play a role in shaping our sense of ourselves and our understanding of our place in the world. They raise questions about genetics in determining identity and connecting people who have never met. And they suggest that perhaps the present, in each of us, contains both the past and the future. Ultimately, "The Persistence of Family" portrays the layered process of becoming, and the complex interweaving of time, place, and identity.
Diana Cheren Nygren is a fine art photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her work explores the relationship of people to their physical environment and landscape as a setting for human activity. Her photographs address serious social questions through a blend of documentary practice, invention, and humor. Diana was trained as an art historian with a focus on modern and contemporary art, and the relationship of artistic production to its socio-political context. Her emphasis on careful composition in her photographic work, as well as her subject matter, reflects this training. Her work as a photographer is the culmination of a life-long investment in the power of art and visual culture to shape and influence social change.