Lydia Panas

born in 1958, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
lives in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, USA

The Mark of Abel (2005-2008)

Our earliest relationships considerably influence whom we turn out to be.

For three years in hot and cold weather, I invited families to stand before my lens. I asked them not because I knew what to expect, but because I was curious to see what would happen.

These groups (and occasionally solitary figures) stood graciously before me as I watched the series unfold. Nothing in the series was deliberate or planned. The images do not represent individuals so much as they explore the questions of how we see ourselves and what we feel.

The photographs turned out to be a surprise. Like a gift, they were revealed before me, and in the process I learned more about myself than I could have imagined.

A childhood spent travelling across the ocean between two continents was confusing and yet imbued with experiences that to this day affect the way I see.

Navigating two cultures became a way of life. These experiences impressed upon me the importance of careful observation, which I incorporated into my photography, and turned my eyes to the details.

In these pictures of family relationships, it is the details that matter most. Although they portray engaging people, verdant landscapes and beautiful light, it is the small things in the images that provide us with clues to understand the subtle nature of the work.

The photographs ask that we look deeper than the surface for what lies underneath; that complex part of our own personalities we often don’t see.

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