Coming across Erinn Springer’s work and instantly falling in love with it is something I'm sure lots of editors have experienced in recent years, and if not yet, then they certainly will. Her work consists of a consistently beautiful mix of both documentary projects and photojournalism, in which she approaches in a way that is delicate enough that you wouldn’t be able to decipher between her deeply rooted family based series - Home Is Where The Garden Grows, to a commission from the NY times.
The Wisconsin born photographer is somewhat special in the eyes of artists around the world. The meaningful tones created in her work cross over so naturally from her personal projects to the commercially abstract series’ that she creates, and whilst much of her work could be spoken about so extensively, two series that really stand from the vast collection of Springer’s work are Home Is Where The Garden Grows and Dormant Seasons.
Home is Where the Garden Grows began as an observation of her niece and nephew whenever they would spend time together. “My sister and I have always been really close so getting to see these mini extensions of her has been a really sweet experience” she tells me. Since the death of her sister’s husband, Springer talks about how her whole world and perspective changed. “Suddenly, there was a “before” and “after” – life with him and life without him. The photos of the kids became subtle evidence of that demarcation and they also made me realise the fluidity of these feelings within the abstraction of time. When we go through trauma, the world opens to us in so many ways. Whether it be spiritually or physically or both, everything takes on a new depth and weight. Navigating these existential questions with a camera wasn’t intentional, but it became the way I grasped onto our new reality. The questions and answers evolve every time I shoot.”
Taken as a metaphor for the garden of their lives and the weeds and the blossoms it produces, the name, Home Is Where The Garden Grows was taken from the name of the house in which her mother built in the 1970’s. The home has seen generations of growth with her siblings raised there in the 1980’s, herself in the 1990’s and her niece and nephew in 2015 onwards.
Both series aim to examine the cycle of their lives through the inevitable fate we all face. “I don’t think of this focus on death as being a dark presence. I think of it as being a subconscious attempt to find peace in my mortality through shared human experience. Both projects were inspired by my family, and specifically my nieces and nephews. Through them, I’m able to revisit my childhood and witness their discovery of the world. There are similar sentiments between the two projects, but they both serve quite different purposes for me, psychologically and emotionally. It’s been interesting to examine and reflect on just what those purposes are.”
“Dormant Seasons is an observation of home and the cyclical nature of the land in which they inhabit. This series started as an observation of my family during the November hunting season and was influenced by the feelings surrounding the traditions of winter. The image of my niece on the ice was the first image that made me realise I’d like to do a series. This project is a more observational and maybe scientific approach to the sensitive topics and evolving emotions I explore in Home Is Where The Garden Grows.”