In Lieu of Flowers is an ongoing series of memorial portraits of the transpeople murdered in the United States and Puerto Rico due to transphobia, state violence, and institutional neglect. Part mourning ritual and part photograph, I use the roses from my garden and portraits primarily made by the subjects themselves to create a series of anthotypes, images created using photosensitive material from plants and the sun that cannot be fixed, therefore will eventually fade. This process is an act of devotion and extended witnessing over the course of the days- to weeks-long exposures. When I move the prints from window to window each day to keep them in direct sunlight, I spend time looking into each person’s eyes, connecting with their joy and grieving for their absence. The sun, the source of life, cannot revive them, yet the sunlight that creates each anthotype is the same light that once illuminated each original selfie, connecting us to one another. The resulting work is an examination of community, loss, time, and the impossible effort to extend both the life of my roses and the memory of these stolen lives.
Caleb Cole is a Midwest-born, Boston-based artist whose work addresses the opportunities and difficulties of queer belonging, as well as aims to be a link in the creation of that tradition, no matter how fragile or ephemeral or impossible its connections. They were an inaugural resident at Surf Point Residency and have received an Artadia Boston Finalist Award, Hearst 8x10 Biennial Award, 3 Magenta Flash Forward Foundation Fellowships, and 2 Photolucida Critical Mass Finalist Awards, among other distinctions. Cole exhibits regularly at a variety of national venues and has held solo shows in Boston, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis, among others. Their work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Newport Art Museum, the Davis Art Museum, Brown University Art Museum, and Leslie Lohman Museum of Art. Cole teaches at Boston College and Clark University and is represented by Gallery Kayafas, Boston.