SCAD alumna Melissa Spitz (M.F.A., photography, 2014) records the struggles and complexities of her mother’s life, and their tumultuous relationship, through photography. "You Have Nothing to Worry About" features Spitz’s mother Deborah, who struggles with mental illness and substance abuse, in moments of sorrow, joy, boredom, chaos and pain in an ongoing project spanning eight years of documentation. The artist uncompromisingly confronts viewers with moments typically reserved for private space, revealing an honest and complex depiction of the human spirit.
The exhibition includes works hung salon style to form a narrative that chronicles aspects of Deborah’s life, such as her poolside lounging, her cigarette-burned blanket, bins of pills or a bruised arm. Accompanying this installation, below an image of Deborah in the passenger seat of a car, is a caption of a post from Spitz’s Instagram account, in which she describes the inaccuracy of memory as it pertains to her experiences growing up. As the project has developed over the course of eight years, Instagram has served a vital role, allowing Spitz to explore this relationship publicly and privately. The social media platform has given her a means to test the boundaries of the two, by posting images from the project alongside screenshots of text messages and iPhone images.
Through the progression of "You Have Nothing to Worry About," Spitz has grappled with the ethics of representation and conflicting emotions that she experiences when photographing her subject. Her role as photographer is to document very personal moments in her mother’s life, as well as shed light on taboo subjects like substance abuse and mental illness.
Melissa Spitz is from St. Louis, Missouri, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. She earned an M.F.A. in photography from SCAD and a B.F.A. from the University of Missouri — Columbia. Spitz's work has been featured by the Aperture Foundation, Time magazine, VICE, The Huffington Post and other publications. She was recently named Time’s Instagram Photographer of the Year for 2017.
"You Have Nothing to Worry About" is curated by Ben Tollefson, assistant curator of SCAD exhibitions.
The exhibition is free and open to the public.
This exhibition is part of SCAD deFINE ART 2018, held Feb. 20-23 at university locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, and Hong Kong. SCAD deFINE ART is an annual program of exhibitions, lectures, performances and public events that highlights emerging and established artists and visionaries.
Learn more about Spitz’s honor from Time.
Dive deeper into the exhibition with Connect Savannah’s feature.