kristen joy watts

“Seven years ago, when I co-curated an exhibition of works by Dionne Simpson, I was also recovering from Hodgkin’s disease. After the exhibition was over, Simpson gave me the most minimal of the works, and my favourite of her deconstructed canvases. Now, this piece hangs in my bedroom, and I wake up to it every morning - a daily reminder of the generosity of the human spirit, and the gems that await you after life’s struggles.”

Patricia Ritacca was photographed in Toronto on May 16th. You can follow her just-launched curatorial collective on Instagram.


Photographing Everyday Objects That Make Us Who We Are

They’re oft forgotten under the bed, nestled between some books on a shelf, or tucked away in a closet. A wooden box, a ring, a photograph – we all own those seemingly unremarkable objects that are, in fact, bursting with personal meaning. Revealing their story gives a glimpse into our past, shining a faint light into the depths of our soul.

That’s what Kristen Joy Watts and Ramsay de Give are doing with The Weight of Objects – a photography blog that features portraits of people side by side with ordinary, but prized, possessions. A founding member of the New York Times’ photo blog, Lens, Watts is the editor, and Ramsay’s the photographer – using a medium format “tank of a camera,” as he describes it, that was discontinued in 2004. (He is also colorblind.) We talked to the duo about light, color, and finding subjects in unexpected places.

How did The Weight of Objects come together?

Kristen Joy Watts: I wanted to match quiet portraits with a storytelling method that would reveal just a hint of each person portrayed. I thought that asking each subject to share the story of a treasured object would achieve that. And I knew that Ramsay would capture each object with the requisite awe and wonder.

Keep reading

“Just over one year ago, I traded in my subway pass for Roxie, my pink Schwinn cruiser. She was given to me by my Dutch friend, Kirsten, who bought it off of a Brooklyn-based Haitian voodoo doctor whose colorblind son originally bought it thinking it was blue. One day I was riding through Brooklyn and a teenaged black boy yelled at me as I rode past, ‘Normally I would make fun of a dude riding a big pink bike, but your arms are so big, I don’t wanna mess with you.’”

Baratunde Thurston was photographed in New York City on June 27th. You can follow him on Twitter.

“The moment I saw this ribbon on a goodie bag at a disco party, I decided it would be my lucky ribbon because it was white and satin and beautiful. Sometimes I use it to tie up my hair when I want to dress up a bit fancy for class. One time I took my lucky ribbon to school, and it brought me good luck because it made me have a fabulous day.”

Beatrice was photographed in Montclair, New Jersey, on January 5th.

“One of the things that I’ve kept over the years is a book of classical Greek myths from my grade nine English class that was falling apart by the time I got it. The notes in its margins from past students who borrowed it - beginning in 1976 - seemed like they were just for me. I knew that if I stole it I couldn’t pass it on to the next student but I fell so much in love with it that I had to.”

Christian Lo was photographed in New York City on May 18th. You can follow her on Instagram.

“This leather jacket was my father’s and by some grace of God, it fit both of us perfectly. He wore it with aviators and ascots and I wear it with everything—dresses, jeans, nightgowns. A small hole above one pocket got stuck on a metal fence and completely ripped, but I just think of it as an extra pocket." 
Morgan Doff was photographed in New York City on August 5th. Here she is on Twitter

“For my final contortion show at the National Circus School, my director told me, ‘Be different.’ So I saved money (a lot), bought myself a beautiful pair of ballet shoes, and created a choreography that I performed with such pleasure. So yes, I love my ballet shoes.”

Elle was photographed in Montréal on May 16th.

“I got my life-sized Pikachu on my fourth birthday from a friend of my Dad’s in Japan. He stays on his tiny bed I made for him at the corner of my bed and he has a wife in my home and they will be having kids soon. I hold him all the time and he helped me feel confident in making new friends when I started school.”

Kai was photographed in Toronto on May 18th.

“When I found this vintage Schiaparelli hat - a fashion unicorn - at a vintage shop in the Marais in Paris, I was finishing college and had a lot of self-doubt. I took it as a sign from the universe to keep doing what I love. It doesn’t fit me so I place it around my apartment like a talisman.”

Cara Araneta was photographed in New York City on May 7th. You can follow her on Instagram.

“I found this ID bracelet after my dad’s funeral when I was 16, rummaging through his little leather treasure chest full of cufflinks and buttons and such; I snuck off with it and a vintage pair of bucking horse cufflinks. In a sense, it embodies the gentle cowboy life I had before moving to New York and has been with me on all the adventures that have unfolded since - from every Bergdorf event, every fashion week, every new apartment, to every thrill and heartache. I never take it off.”

Cannon Tekstar Hodge was photographed in New York City on May 5th. You can follow her on Twitter.

“I wore each of these watches one summer during elementary school when I lived in Thailand with my mom and sister. The black one broke shortly after I arrived, and I bought the red cartoon watch when I couldn’t read the traditional Thai numbers on the red-and-black one. Exploring a different culture, meeting new relatives, eating strange food, discovering new fashion, learning new games and songs, and seeing different landscapes at a young age helped to form my perception of the world, and I keep these watches because they remind me of how invaluable those experiences were."  

Tassy de Give was photographed in New York City on December 6th. You can follow her on Instagram.