Amy Fichter: Life and Death and Life

All images copyright Amy Fichter
All images copyright Amy Fichter

Nobody gave Amy Fichter the mission or authority to visit a cemetery on Christmas day or enter abandoned homes in the rural Midwest, and yet she persisted, offering a quiet eye on the subject of death and rebirth. The majority of her photographs show us several perspectives: images of lifeless animals, gravestones, roadside memorials, and abandoned dwellings. Ended lives are again given a pulse through recognition by the artist, actions taken by the living and nature’s earthly tendencies. The artist’s eye and her equipment will inevitably edit and choose what is important and what is not, and fortunately for us, Fichter’s creations usually contain qualities of otherworldliness. It’s like her pictures first greet us with an accessible scene and then something about them make us question that initial familiarity. In her appropriately titled series, Roadside Memorials, each life had been self-governed by separate distinctions and is now memorialized by the same basic shape – a cross. This observation isn’t to conclude homage to the specific story of Christianity but rather a culturally convenient resource for expressing the power of unity. She is an ambassador for sharing the world’s necessity to function on its complex series of connections, despite its countless variances. Legacy is her subject, gifting the viewers with a prime opportunity for self-reflection.


The World Wide Web and its built-in-camera conspirators are the culprits responsible for production and reproduction of images made to be quickly viewed and quickly judged. Fichter is a photographer with an extensive drawing background who has the composure to slow down the process of picture making. This effect trickles down and viewers also take more time considering her decisions. Together, they fight the good fight against a commencement of habitual ‘clicking’ that most of us suffer from, evolved and nourished by the said fecundity of online imagery. Her three most cherished camera formats are the beginning and end of why she takes this particular path in photography. A 35 mm camera excites in the same challenging manner of charcoal and blank paper, using a limiting resource to get to the best possible, unlimited outcome. Her twin-lens reflex Yashica is a humbling tool chosen in the spirit of photography’s roots, requiring great attention to light and focus. For a healthy balance, the 120 Holga brings a precarious quality to the table, from which her collection generates artistic distinction. This dynamic trio, together with her iPhone, has provided a platform for Fichter to share spaces defined from her mind’s eye. Her Flickr account has gathered a large audience and is powered by an abundance of patient observers. It is like a conversation on a front porch, complete with a healthy amount of comfortable silences as well as an occasional descriptive #hashtag remark, which of course, says it all.


Fichter highlights deeply personal entities in order to contribute to a collective consciousness seeking an understanding of death. She states, “There is a strange comfort in knowing we are all in this together. When I photograph a dead animal, roadside memorial, or gravestone, it is always with reverence and with acknowledgement that this is also my fate.” The Deer series is fashioned of traffic-killed deer lying roadside and stands as a strong collection unified by the demeanor of her respectful curiosity. Take a look at Deer, Highway 92 carrying the transcendent air of an animal corpse’s biological changeover to earthly material. This picture is in keeping with her technique of turning every thin sliver of a shadow into an inky crevasse that sinks, quite possibly, to the center of earth. The point here is that photography hasn’t granted Fichter an incredible eye for depth, but rather the other way around.


Her collection also includes personal images that are bursts of vitality, suggesting reasons to live. These pictures make more noise, hosting the smiles and activities of family members and pets. Like marking-flags that tell us what’s been buried, they are colorful reasons to make careful decisions. What’s more is her ability to make virtual connections with others who are living a similar chase. Theirs is the life that takes careful and intentional steps toward static veins, a paused heart, and all of the remaining lives that extend from one who has been lost. Life ends and death is given life. This is what Amy finds with her cameras.


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Katelin Walczyk