The Comfort of Strangers by Laura Griffin

Issue 29

The Comfort of Strangers is a series that I worked on for 10 years. It began when I moved to New York City for graduate school at SVA in 1999. I was 24 and a newlywed, and found myself in sudden crisis with my husband. He was diagnosed with a serious illness less than 6 months after we got married and the weight of that stress was immeasurable. I was in a new city, a new school, a new marriage, no close friends and no one with which to share my fears and anxiety. Yet I needed to keep taking pictures and turn my loneliness and sadness into creativity.

The act of walking around with a Pentax 6x7 camera in a city of strangers was incredibly cathartic. My husband did not want anyone to know he was sick and therefore I could tell no one what we were going through. This went on for several years.

I photographed constantly; traversing the city for hours, finding images of calm and serenity where I could. The resulting pictures became simultaneously a way out of a very difficult time, and a way in to understanding just how precarious, precious and poetic a moment, a gesture, a feeling, an object, a color can be. Even as things got better at home and my husband got well, I continued the series. The completed body of work contains roughly 60 images as an exploration of anonymity in a city of millions of people; a journey to turn personal chaos into quiet, mystery and beauty through photography.

This series was also inspired by the short stories of Raymond Carver as well as Michael Cunningham's novel, The Hours.

Laura Griffin is an Atlanta, Georgia based artist.
To view more of Laura's work, please visit her website.

  Bird Decal with Daily Mail 

Bird Decal with Daily Mail 

  Strung 

Strung 

  Corner Windows 

Corner Windows 

  Flowering Tree 

Flowering Tree 

  I Heart You 

I Heart You 

  White Umbrellas 

White Umbrellas 

  The End of the Bed 

The End of the Bed 

  Sea Bird 

Sea Bird 

  Graduation 

Graduation 

  Coat Hangers and Rhett Butler 

Coat Hangers and Rhett Butler 

  Courtyard 

Courtyard 

  The Glare 

The Glare 

  Three Cranes 

Three Cranes 

  Smoke Clouds Sky 

Smoke Clouds Sky 

  The Whispers in the Window 

The Whispers in the Window 

  Tennis Court 

Tennis Court