Copyright © 2002, Photographic Resource Center, Inc.
Sage Sohier’s featured work is from her series “Mother,” in which she addresses her mother, herself, and her sister aging as well as their relationship together. In many of the scenes, Sohier appears awkwardly posed or fussed upon, a Pygmalion to their Henry Higgins. The women often appear in a tri-part manner recalling the three graces, an apt allusion for a series dealing with beauty and class. Lavish furnishings and paintings haunt the background in Sohier’s work: a portrait of her mother at age 16 appears in the living room and in another, picture of her sister as a harlequin hangs in her mother’s bedroom. Ultimately, Sohier’s work is a portrait of an intimate group of people and their own created worlds.
Born in Washington, D.C. and a graduate of Harvard College, Sohier has taught at a number of schools in the Boston area, most recently for 12 years at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). She has been awarded many grants for her work, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowship, and two Massachusetts Artist Foundation Photography Fellowships. Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group shows, including the DeCordova Museum of Art (Lincoln, MA), International Center of Photography (New York, NY), and as a part of the Museum of Modern Art’s (New York, NY) seminal exhibition, The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. Her work is included in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, MA), Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton, NJ), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), among others. In addition, her work on assignment has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, LIFE, and other journals. She is represented by Bernard Toale Gallery (Boston, MA).
For a brief period in her youth, my mother was a model, photographed by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, and once on the cover of LIFE Magazine. As a child, I grew up as a witness to her beauty: I used to lie on her bed, with the dogs, and watch her try on clothes and study herself critically in the mirror. As I grew older, there was no use competing with her, and so I assumed my position, quite happily, on the other side of the camera.
So, this is about the aging family: how some things never change, and others, inevitably, do. Some of these pictures are re-creations of old family snapshots from my childhood. Most are collaborative, made on a tripod with a self-timer. I hope to continue this series, when I visit with my mother (and sometimes my sister) a few times a year, as long as time and mutual interest allow.- Sage Sohier