Todd Hido (MFA 1996, and currently a Photography faculty member) has built several remarkable and highly recognizable bodies of work over the two decades of his career thus far. He is best known for his night shots of suburban houses, desolate landscapes obscured by rain and snow, and uneasy, haunting portraits.
"Photographing people and places -- and putting them together to create narratives and suggest stories -- has consistently been my focus," says Hido. "It never ceases to amaze me what happens when you combine a portrait and a place. Your mind can't help filling in the gaps between them."
Hido's latest solo exhibition, Excerpts from Silver Meadows, is on view now through February 25 at Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco. Sequenced to form an almost cinematic narrative, its main "characters" are atmospheric, uninhabited wintertime landscapes and somewhat spooky portraits of beautiful, dramatic-looking women. Silver Meadows is a real place -- a suburban development that sprang up around 1970 on the outskirts of Kent, Ohio, where Hido grew up, which makes the development and the artist about the same age.
While shooting the pictures, he wandered around Silver Meadows and its adjacent areas deliberately, yet randomly, in search of scenes that would connect with his recollections. The exhibition presents both Hido's reckoning with his own past and a summation of the suburban childhood experience in general, in which communities are constructed from whole cloth, and "ticky tacky" homes, built similarly to convey stability, actually conceal lives seething with sexual and psychological instability. The pictures feel simultaneously familiar, yet imaginary and dreamlike, transcending any specific time and place.