Joanna Knox Yoder is a photographic artist and educator originally from Burtonsville Maryland. Yoder received her B.A. in art education from University of Maryland, College Park and her M.F.A. in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited nationally in Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Atlanta as well as Internationally in Tokyo, Japan. She explores the connection between history, memory, and place in her photographs. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker Photobooth, South x Southeast Photomagazine, Fotovisura, and the Washington Post. She recently uprooted from her hometown in Maryland and moved to the south where she continues to be inspired by disappearing southern architecture and landscape.
"The history of this house is hear-‐say, passed down through the generations. I have done much research on this land and family but have not been able to authenticate the house." (Eileen R. Walters, Old Rogers House lineage document)
A layer of dust had collected on the walls of Mr. Rogers' house. Upon a closer look a faint handprint is revealed and the purity of the white wall underneath. Like an archeologist, I search for details of another time. I want to learn what life was like back then. Instead of finding something that is tangible, I find a spirit, a trace. The interiors of these abandoned structures are symbols of our own mortality. They remind us of our past and simultaneously foreshadow old age and death. The force that drives me is my fascination with the effect that time has on places. Abandoned houses lure me inside to photograph what the walls are striving to protect. The subjects of my photographs are not the walls themselves, rather the light contained by them. I let the light choose what it wants to reveal. A building, once ornate, becomes simple. White is never white due to variations, and the effects of weather and time. Filtered, diffused light endows a sacred atmosphere where everything is stripped down to its purest, essential form. The few remaining pieces of furniture and personal items embody the former occupants. If there is a connection between a house and a human soul, I am searching hard to find it.
The creation of the series of wet-‐plate collodion tintypes was a process of healing and discovery for me as an artist. This series emerged as I had been thinking about my family ancestry. I thought about my mother’s dress cocooned in a plastic sheath, my father’s military jacket and wrinkled tie and how they reminded me of life and death simultaneously. I thought about my ancestors and what they passed on to me. I thought about the void I felt without children of my own and about who would remember me when I die. These photographs ask questions about family legacy, memory, and death.
Along The Way
My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life. She made it her life goal to travel to as many places as possible throughout her life. She would tell me stories of "Holy Cows" knocking her over in India, or riding in hot air balloons over Kenya and watching the wild animals below. When she passed away, I made it my goal to travel just as she had. These images are a result of my travels, continually searching for beauty in new places and for people to inspire my path.