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Erica Bradshaw Finds Connections With Her Late Great-Grandmother | Lansing ArtPath Profiles

Erica Bradshaw stands next to her installation in a grassy space on a sunny day. The piece is a collage of small photo slides with a panel depicting a deer looking up at a tree in front of it.
Sophia Saliby/ WKAR
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Bradshaw used hundreds of one-inch by one-inch photo transparency slides her late great-grandmother took as reference pictures for her art, and made them into a collage.

Artists participating in the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center’s annual ArtPath exhibition this year have taken their inspirations from things like their home, their culture and the future of the country.

Mixed media artist, Erica Bradshaw, looked to the past when she created her piece, "Captured Moments."

"It's a piece dedicated to my great-grandmother's memories of her life. She was a painter as well."

Bradshaw used hundreds of one-inch by one-inch photo transparency slides her late great-grandmother took as reference pictures for her art, and made them into a collage. They depict landscapes, trees, lakes and sunsets.

I had to show these memories of her somehow, memories that would otherwise be thrown out.

"It inspired me to use them in a piece. I had to show these memories of her somehow, memories that would otherwise be thrown out," she said.

Bradshaw calls it a collaboration with someone she only got to know for a short period of time.

"It kind of symbolizes how we interact with nature over time, and how from generation to generation, those experiences don't change, and it connects us all."

In front of the photo collage is a panel Bradshaw painted of a deer looking up at a tree. It’s another nod to her great-grandmother.

a close-up of the head of the dear painted by Bradshaw, behind it are dozens of small photo transparency slides
Credit Erica Bradshaw
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Bradshaw says her great-grandmother was often unsuccessful at capturing reference photos of deer, so she decided to pay tribute by painting one as part of the piece.

"A lot of her slides or her slide holders were marked 'deer too dark.' And so, she could never quite capture the deer imagery whether it was because they were in the forest or covered by shade," she said.

Bradshaw says there are plenty of other details in the slides that require a close-up look at the piece to see like dates or notes her great grandmother wrote.

"A lot of them will say, 'paint this one' or they'll have the location of where the slide was taken. And the only two photos that have people in them are going to be a slide of my great-grandfather and a slide of my great-grandmother," she said.

Depending on the time of day, the sun will shine through the small slides making it easier to see a lifetime's worth of memories. 

I think everybody has their own photographs and their own memories in nature that they can connect with this piece and see a lot of parallels within their life with my great-grandmother's.

Many of the photos were taken around Michigan, so some of places may also be familiar.

Bradshaw says she hopes people will find parallels with her story and relationships with their own family.

"Those photographs would have been hidden otherwise," she said. "I think everybody has their own photographs and their own memories in nature that they can connect with this piece and see a lot of parallels within their life with my great-grandmother's."

Find Bradshaw’s installation, “Captured Moments” just south of the Turner-Dodge House in Old-Town.

It’s in a grassy space just off the Lansing River Trail by a shady area with a bench. 

A close-up image of some of the photo-transparency slides. Some of them depict flowers and landscapes. One is a picture of Bradshaw's great-grandfather wearing a cowboy hat. Another is her great-grandmother in front of mountains.
Credit Erica Bradshaw
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Bradshaw went through thousands of photo transparency slides her great-grandmother took before selecting about 400 for the piece.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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