SUBURBAN DREAMS- Beth Yarnelle Edwards speaks at De Anza2 min read

Brian Rose, Freelance Writer

Beth Yarnelle Edwards’ images are the still lives of real people at home in the Silicon Valley and Europe, which capture the daily routines and hobbies of a suburban life.

“NIKI” - Three sisters prepare for an evening out. From the Silicon Valley series “Suburban Dreams.”
“NIKI” – Three sisters prepare for an evening out. From the Silicon Valley series “Suburban Dreams.”
“LEA-PAULINE” - Young girl plays dress up in her Paris bedroom. From the French series.
“LEA-PAULINE” – Young girl plays dress up in her Paris bedroom. From the French series.

award winning photographer presented her first book “Suburban Dreams” at De Anza College on March 8.

The photo exhibit “Suburban Dreams” is currently on display at the Oakland Museum of California until June 30.

Edwards explained the photos are staged, not the people.

“The people improvise the situation,” Edwards said.

Edwards was born in Portage, Pa and then settled in the fast growing suburb in the U.S.: San Fernando Valley.  Apart from studying at UCLA and University of Guadalajara in Mexico, Edwards has spent most of her life in the suburbs.

She took on photography at age 41 after a friend suggested it. Edwards began taking photography classes at The College of San Mateo and finished her master’s degree in photography at San Jose State University in 1998.

Edwards first subject were children, whose poses she perceived as natural. At San Jose State, she switched from black-and-white to color and started to use a medium format camera for her work. She then moved on to friends and people in the Silicon Valley.

When meeting with her models, Edwards would ask open ended questions to make them feel comfortable, such as their favorite past time. She would tour their homes, gathering ideas. Her creations are a collaborative endeavor.

Edwards observes her images rather than criticize them.

“I am as interested in the visual as I am in the content,” Edwards said, “I am seeking out the intersection of the mythic with the mundane.”

Her images show just that. One image is of a family playing baseball on their driveway. The boy is pitching the ball to his sister, the mother playing umpire, with the father sitting by the sidelines. The angle of the sun puts a spotlight on them. The image captures what so many Americans have lived through.

De Anza student Hiroto Kato said after the presentation that Edwards’ images are “staged but contemporary, real but not real.”

Edward is currently doing research for her next project, which will reflect the lives of legal and undocumented immigrants.

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