Fall/Winter 2015. Issue 10

Fall/Winter 2015. Issue 10

Self-Portrait: Stacy Renee Morrison


Stacy Renee Morrison graduated from Rutgers University in 1997 with a degree in women’s studies and afterwards began to study the cultural history of etiquette. In the midst of trying to save the world from the impolite, she received her Master’s Degree in Photography from New York University in 2001.

Stacy has exhibited her photographs in NYC, Toronto, Italy, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Argentina and San Francisco. She received a grant from the Rhode Island Council of the Humanities for her work on The Girl of My Dreams that enabled her to slip back in time and make her apparitional images; Chrysalis is from this series, a digital melding of two people into a mysterious young woman.

The Girl of My Dreams tells the story of a woman who lived over a century ago, and who was rediscovered on the basis of remnants she left behind in a small trunk, which was found in the garbage.  Stacy’s exploration of the contents of the trunk was the starting point for what would become an obsessive detective hunt to find out who this person had been and – ultimately – a subsuming artwork..

To clarify why we have included this in our gallery of self-portraits, please note this excerpt from Stacy’s artist’s statement:

“Through calling cards, in the trunk I discovered the name of my ghost.  Her name was Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander and she was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1841.  For the past few years I have been retracing Sylvia’s footsteps into the dark corners of archives up and down the East Coast, weaving through the sleepy waterfront streets of her youth and the remnants of the avenues of the most fashionable neighborhood in New York City during the Gilded Age, in order to discover what remains from her life and re-imagine her history through photographs.

During my journey, I found Sylvia’s great-granddaughter, who is in her seventies and lives in New England.  In her basement, she allowed me to explore a large steamer trunk filled with Sylvia’s century-old dresses. Remarkably, they fit me.  It also contained correspondence chronicling a precarious love story with a Civil War soldier, the final letters written by her mother who died of consumption in 1866 and journals in which a teenage Sylvia penciled in a single sentence about each of her days.  There were also photographs of Sylvia as a young woman, whose likeness spookily resembles my own.”

Stacy Renee Morrison is currently developing curriculum with the Rhode Island Historical Society to bring The Girl of My Dreams to history classes across the state and she has made ghostly photographs for a book about the John Brown House in Providence. Stacy frequently lectures about The Girl of My Dreams as a visiting artist at universities and historical societies.

To see more of Stacy’s photographs in this series and other still-life work, please visit her website: www.stacyreneemorrison.com