Photographer Rachel Deutmeyer found that you can’t go home again—but that inaccessibility became a route to this powerful visual meditation on loss, change, and memory.
Deutmeyer, an assistant professor of photography at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, had originally set out to explore the small town in Dubuque County where she was raised, but she found she was unable to access the center of her memories: her childhood home. This absence rendered her familiar surroundings foreign, and the house became, in her project, a symbol of what we lose in the passage from youth to adulthood.
The 15 works on view momentarily suspend a landscape in constant change. Spring buds, shadows, sunlight, butterflies, and multiple exposures of the exteriors of houses photographed across the Midwest become reflections of not only the inexorable passage of time but the wavering quality of memory itself. “I edited and sequenced the images to construct a narrative that references a bygone time in my own life,” she wrote, “but they also address collective ideas of home, family, and loss,” a sentiment that turns this highly personal project into a universal one.
Deutmeyer’s work was first exhibited at DuMA in the 2019 Biennial, making Everything Fades both a homecoming and an evolution. “Change is often slow and unnoticed until it suddenly feels permanent and inevitable,” she reflected. “I found beauty in things that were changing, as we are all changing.”