About the Photographer
During a brief but fruitful career, regrettably cut short by her death at the age of 33, Tracey Baran used color photography as a way to record and refine her experiences, touching on fundamental themes such as love, intimacy, and mortality. Her work often has an autobiographical undercurrent, with photographs centering on members of her family or revolving around her developing romantic relationship with her boyfriend at the time. But Baran's works suggest how autobiographical endeavors inevitably intertweave elements of storytelling with efforts at faithful testimony. Her photographs have a cinematic visual quality, as if condensing a fuller narrative into a single evocative moment, and they erode the immediate distinction between spontaneous and choreographed situations.
Baran was born and raised in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, and in the early 2000s she completed a series of photographs in the small towns in the area. In these images the primary concern isn't the artist's own history, or even the character of the region itself. Instead her photographs become more universal meditations. In Club Valentine (2003), for instance, Baran captures a scene that suggests the all too human tug of love and longing, or the weight of loneliness and romantic ideals. A heart-shaped sign on a snowy street corner declares the ordinary-looking house pictured on the left side of the image to be Club Valentine, a place for drinks and fine food. In one of its windows a cardboard cutout of a football player looks out like a waiting lover, while a solitary pickup truck idles in the empty parking lot with its headlights beaming in the night.