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The House Where My Mom Grew Up

This was my grandparents John and Stella Westerfield's house in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is where my mother grew up. Today, my son owns it. I made this photograph when I was in art school.

This is a Polaroid SX-70 Manipulation. Polaroid SX-70 was the first "All in one" Polaroid film; unlike earlier Polaroid films, you did not have to peel apart the film to get the finished print. Unlike the later Polaroid 600 and Spectra films, the image of an SX-70 print remained soft for several minutes after the image had completely developed. This was discovered soon after the film was introduced back in the 1970s and artists began using blunt tools like wooden sticks and crochet needles to smear the image and push parts of it around under the clear plastic that covered the front surface.

I learned to do this in art school in the late 1990s. Unfortunately the Polaroid SX-70 film was discontinued only a couple years later, so I have only a handful of these images. The Polaroid SX-70 film sold today is a totally different material that was introduced a few years ago by the newly resurrected Polaroid company. Unfortunately, the new SX-70 film hardens before the image appears and cannot be manipulated like the old stuff. Images like this can never be made again.