Michelle Saffran, Artist Spotlight No. 31


As we move through the world our senses become entwined with the materiality of each environment we encounter. This co-mingling of the kinesthetic with the tangible become stored in our mind and body as a memory.

Each place we inhabit whether familiar or new activates a complex set of internal and often unconscious, psychological responses that draw from the past, present, and future all within an instant. The medium of photography offers a means for collapsing and unifying this discordant time.

Challenged by the task of representing the mutability and ever-present mystery of memory, I have pushed against the ideas of time being unredeemable and reexamining the past futile. I believe we continually redeem the past through its re-imagination. It is precise because the past is with us in the present, and will be part of our future that it is redeemable. My mission is to distill the emotions connected to the past as they are filtered through time and the subjectivity of memory.

I call upon the photograph to trigger an uncanny re-experiencing of the past. The intention behind my work is to explore the possibilities of a photograph as a catalyst for remembrance and a summons to reflect on loss. The work is built from a failure to answer the enduring questions of existence.

Works by © Michelle Saffran

Michelle Saffran, originally from Detroit Michigan has lived in Vermont for most of her adult life. Drawing upon the landscape as a metaphor, her home in the rural Mad River Valley has been influential in the development of her practice. She shares her home with her musician husband and two large, outrageous, and smelly dogs.

Her photo-based art practice explores the formative influences of memory on identity and questions the role of the photograph as a catalyst for remembrance. She manipulates the photographic image both digitally and by hand through acts of sanding, sewing, and collaging.

Michelle is the recipient of the Artist Creation Grant and Artist Development Grants from the Vermont Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts and a Vermont Community Foundation Grant. Her work is included in private and public collections across the United States and Australia. Michelle’s accomplishments include a BA in Psychology from Oakland University in Michigan, a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.

Instagram: @mcsaffran or https://www.instagram.com/mcsaffran/

Artist’s Website: https://www.michellesaffran.com/