Riley Halliday is a freshman at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is planning on studying film in the fall. She has been photographing throughout her adolescence and runs the fashion and art blog Thrifts and Prints. Her work and personal style is heavily influenced by antiques and other finds generations before her left behind. Below she’s sharing with us her latest piece “The Flowers on this Street Grow Backwards” along with an artist statement.
What is art but a preservation of existence? Whether the artist be the subject of the work or not, art is about making life tangible, like freezing humanity in time. When I created my short “The Flowers on this Street Grow Backwards”, I wanted to create a space, a space no larger or more vast than the screen it’s being viewed on.
I collect photographs amongst other vintage artifacts. Most of my work derives from a collection of vintage magazines passed down to me by my great-grandmother. I am infatuated by the idea of eternity, the belief that although our bodies die our souls do not.
I am not a religious person nor was I raised around religion, but the idea of reincarnation has always fascinated me. This video was a tribute to the people in the photographs. None of them I know. I did not want to idolize their lives or put them on a pedestal. I wanted this video to remain as a time capsule. More nightmarish than dreamy, I chose cool colors and minimal audio. I think it’s easy these days to consume media which embraces a dream-scape of being young, pinks and yellows fill my Instagram feed. I think these works are important, but I also think it’s important to appreciate who came before us, to embrace the humble lives of a nurse, or a family.
The first shot of the video was taken in my backyard. When I went outside to set up the props and backdrop I heard kids playing hide and seek in the neighborhood behind mine. Hearing that was melancholy to me. I began to think about the street where I grew up. I live in the same house my mother grew up in and the same town my father did. I thought about my childhood there and the little things that have made life worth it. When I heard the kids playing, I just wanted to take that corner of my yard and hold onto it forever. The toy in the beginning, an original 1920s ‘Tik-Tak’, is both haunting and whimsical, a reminder of childhood and the passage of time.
The Flowers on this Street Grow Backwards is one if my first independent works in film. Normally I work with photography. I’ve been more drawn to film lately, for it lets a moment, such as the one in my backyard live longer. Film carries itself to more of a viewer’s senses that photography does.
This is a video on preservation. The title is about my street, a reference to living in the past, hence the “growing backwards”. The final scene, in the bathroom, is supposed to be chaotic, unsettling. In a personal sense, it’s a representation of the fear of existence or lack thereof. I used the photograph as a symbol throughout, each represents one specific moment in time.
Maybe we only live one life, perhaps we lead many. Whatever the case, this is three minutes of a corner of a street in the world where we live and die and live again.
Follow Rile’s journey as a creator here:
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