Bonac: Letters From Home is a photo essay by Tara Israel documenting what “home” looks like to her generation of locals in East Hampton, NY. Since 2009, Ms. Israel has made portraits of domestic landscapes, giving her audience a rare, intimate glimpse into a small community with centuries of tangled roots, struggling to define "local". This is a love letter to a small town that has served as Israel’s greatest muse. It is about how we impact each others' lives, actively and passively, that brings us together, and why this photographer’s identity is best understood through the lens of her surroundings. While the work is autobiographical, her subjects' agency remains unaltered. A multitude of realities are portrayed in Tara's photos, and each one is handled with the same love and caution. Everything is familiar. Everywhere is home.
Ms. Israel utilizes landscapes as surrogates for self-portraits as her face is absent from her own memories. The mostly unidentified locations are of personal significance to the artist, employed to trigger memories accumulated over her lifetime. By avoiding the literal, the viewer is able to project their own experiences on the photographs, whether the place is known to them or not.
No single image can communicate a lifetime of experiences, nor can one person speak to a community as a whole. Bonac is a body of work that represents Israel’s own origin story, documenting everyone from best friends to schoolmates to adults that had an impact on her as a child. Ms. Israel created a body of work that she could place herself in the middle of, because home is more than just a mailing address. It is the alchemy of personal experiences colliding with those we coexist with. A home is created as much by our family of birth as it is by our family of choice or our community. "Home" is the product of a lifetime of choices and circumstances, built on every generation that came before.
Tara Israel (b. 1983, East Hampton, NY) stumbled into journalism when she began publishing her photography and essays internationally while a student at Sarah Lawrence College. She has been a contributor and editor for diverse clients ranging from the New York Times, Narratively and eBay ever since. Most known for her long-form work about Long Island and with musician Hank Williams III, Ms. Israel has also been working on narrative pieces about Appalachia, Staten Island and wherever else her van brings her.
This is the first time a selection of this body of Tara Israel's work will be on view together and was made possible with the generous sponsorship of HPA Southampton and Hampton Photo Arts. Additional support provided by Datum.Build and SoundSense.
More information on the artist can be found at www.taraisrael.com