Erika Ritzel

Much of the work that Minneapolis photographer, Erika Ritzel, creates is about what we leave behind, in particular, in our homes and in our classrooms. Her images evoke a nostalgia for what once was, but at the same time, captures personal and public tableaus that are transitory and fleeting. It seems appropriate, in a time of uncertainly and flux, that we hold on the the past, even if for just a few seconds.

Erika grew up in Carbondale, Illinois and now lives in Minneapolis after receiving her BFA from Webster University in St. Louis and her MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2002, she received a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council to complete a project on the flood of 1993, which destroyed her father’s hometown. In 2008, she received a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board to continue her study of estate sales and auctions. In 2009 she was selected for the 2nd round of the McKnight Fellowship of Photographers. Her work has been exhibited at the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, the Minnesota Museum of American Art in St. Paul, the Minnesota Center for Photography, and with the Coalition of Photographic Arts in Wisconsin.

Erika currently works as a freelance designer for Robert George Studio in St. Louis, MO and is adjunct photography faculty in Minneapolis at Century College, Inver Hills Community College, and Brown College.

I began this body of work, SOLD, to investigate estate sales, auctions, and the antiquarian objects being sold during the events. I was interested in the new relationships created by the arrangement and display of the objects within the sale. The photographs reveal some details about the previous owners, yet are very mysterious, making their identity even more intriguing. The interior space of the locations is transformed during the sales; rooms are closed off, tags are put on every item, and objects are arranged and collected with their original context unknown. My intent is to reflect the intimate place of the home through the abstracted details of lighting, textures, and patterns contained within the space.

I originally began investigating estate sales and auctions because they remind me of my family. My parents sell antiques and my father attends auctions every week and collects a variety of tools from Winchester and Simmons Hardware companies. He developed his love for tools because his father was a carpenter. I believe it is important to look at objects from the past to remind us of where we came from and the people we have lost.