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Courtney Eldridge

Homecomings

I was about to start by talking about how unique Ashlee Chavez’s work is—this combination of sweet and sexy and dreamy and sometimes scary and always unique—and it is, her work is all those things, absolutely. But there’s also the fact that Ashlee is a twin, and her twin sister, Amber Marie Chavez, is a photographer, as well. And there have been a few times I mistook one of her sister’s photos for Ashlee’s work, because the sisters clearly communicate through their work. Which definitely had its appeal for this particular project, given this relationship between the two characters, Melody Knox and Thea Denny, who communicate on some telepathic and creative level, as well.

What I think of most of all, when I think of Ashlee’s photography, are all things in this world that you cannot understand despite seeing them with your own eyes. All the times, all the situations in which seeing is not believing, so what is, you know? For me, that’s a theme in Ashlee’s work.

Take one of my favorite photos, which has that wonderful old-fashioned sexiness in sharing what’s not seen, not exposed, witnessing a very private moment of a girl lying on her back, in a chair, in a kitchen, late at night. Who is she? Where is she? What’s the story? Why? To see a moment that’s that intimate, but knowing nothing more about her, for me, that’s central to Ashlee’s work, all right.

And yes, I did read something about Disney possibly remaking The Wizard of Oz just before our collaboration began, last week; reminded, once again, of the classic of a girl trying to get home again, having wanted nothing more than to leave home for good. Now, I happen to be opposed to the idea of a remake, but it reminded me of many things about Ashlee’s work, these little journeys she takes you on, often bringing you full circle.

As well as the fact that that Ashlee shoots entirely in film. And that can’t be an easy decision to make, I don’t imagine, at least not from an economic standpoint. But that’s her love, her belief. And you can feel the difference in her work. Her imagery has a soul to it, yes. It really does.

She has such a genuine warmth about her, too. I mean, the first time I wrote her, sent her a note, right before Christmas, she was so damn warm. Just lovely, you know. Now, every time I see a note from her, I can’t help smiling, because I know she’ll say something, even a few words, like how she calls me “little lady,” and it’s that humor you see, out of nowhere. From the start, she has been kind, generous, always inspiring. Really, she’s exactly the person you would expect her to be, given the mind and free spirit you see at work in her photography, but on the other hand, she’s a complete mystery. And I am very grateful that I’ve had this chance to work with her. Thank you, Ashlee.

C.E.

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