One of Rose Marasco’s goals in her photographs is to chronicle “the actual and symbolic significance of everyday household objects,” according to a press release for a 2004–5 show at Zillman Art Museum in Maine. In her Domestic Objects series (1993–2002), she arranged these items in carefully composed still lifes. In one, a two-page spread from a woman’s diary from 1930 is framed by old silverware — spoon, fork, knife — and set upon a bed of pine needles. While the entries, like “Wed — Rainy all day,” are unremarkable, the presentation turns the reading into a repast of poetic ordinariness.

Domestic Objects is one of many photographic series and sequences featured in Rose Marasco: At Home (OSMOS Books, 2024). In “Curtain Utensils No. 1,” from a 2018 series, Marasco projected a standard vegetable peeler horizontally across a folding white cloth background, transforming this humble implement into a spear-like tool of consequence. As author and art activist Lucy Lippard writes in her foreword, in Marasco’s work, “the familiar becomes unfamiliar.”

Cover of Rose Marasco: At Home (2024), OSMOS Books

One of the highlights of the book is an inventory of items that turned up during renovations of an 1837 Greek Revival house Marasco bought in Portland, Maine, in 2003. Among the most remarkable finds was a woman’s leather shoe discovered in one of the upstairs walls. As Marasco learned through her research, “a single woman’s or child’s shoe was frequently placed in the walls of a newly built house, often on the third floor, to protect the home from evil spirits.” Her photos of the beat-up shoe, such as “A Woman’s Leather Shoe (top and bottom)” (2010) recall Irving Penn’s images of worn work gloves.

The book covers the wide range of Marasco’s technical explorations, including photograms, xerography, photomontages, and pinhole camera work. One of her most recent series, Mimics, (2020–21), consists of side-by-side diptychs in which she imitates a landscape motif with objects found in her house. In “No. 1 of 7,” (2019–20) for example, she uses bobby pins to replicate weeds in the snow. 

Marasco’s texts provide accounts of some of her residencies, including memorable stays at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire and the Arteles Creative Center in Haukijärvi, Finland. She also shares some of her teaching methods (Marasco recently retired as a distinguished professor emerita at the University of Southern Maine.)  

And there are personal anecdotes. Later in life, Marasco learned that her mother worked at the Cunningham Photo Lab in Utica, New York while pregnant with her. “It means,” the photographer explains, that she experienced “that distinct smell of hypo — the fixer that clears and makes permanent the photographic print or negative — in utero.” 

In her essay “The Past as Future,” Marasco writes, “If I have any philosophy about what motivates me to make a photograph, it is this: I simply walk and wait till I hear my heartbeat — then, and only then, do I make a photograph.” The images in this book offer the fruit of those moments — when the world spoke to her, and she responded.

Rose Marasco: At Home (2024) by Rose Marasco, published by OSMOS Books, is available for pre-order online and will be released on March 26.

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