Record of Cherry Road

Record of Cherry Road investigates the myths that surround my family's home, the farmhouse of an old plantation in Memphis, Tennessee. Storied to be haunted, the house contains a multitude of histories that are ever-present yet hidden. With the help of my aunt and uncle, both paranormal investigators, the project seeks a presence that exists within familial lore.

I explore my family’s own haunting as the dead continue to live through the recurrence of names, like George and Cary, through multiple generations. With my given name, Elizabeth Cary, I continue the Record of Cherry Road that another Cary began during her time in Memphis in the 1960s. The city itself, with its conflicting landmarks of Egyptian pyramids and Christian crosses, remains haunted by its own troubled past.

Documentation of paranormal activity from my mother’s childhood, like a map of footsteps or a flash in a window, further conflate myth and history. Referencing spirit photography from the nineteenth century, when ectoplasm was made of cotton, and contemporary images of the paranormal, where chromatic aberrations are not just an artifact of a digital sensor, the project questions our continued reliance on photography to prove a belief.

Do we simply see what we believe or do we believe what we see? By creating images within the nexus of fact and faith, I confront my lack of a sixth sense in contrast to my family’s sensitivity to unseen presences. Like paranormal investigators, I rely on a lifeless machine to create and validate the intangible spirit of the lived, but the resulting images, like ghost stories, are both real and imaginary.