Harry and Edna were everyday people who lived extraordinary lives. They frequented fancy parties. They traveled the world. And they captured it all on film. Half a century later, their photographic journey continued by falling into the hands of Jeff Phillips. Phillips, a Chicago-based photographer, discovered the lives of Harry and Edna in 30 boxes filled with more than a thousand unlabeled Kodachrome slides at a second hand shop in St. Louis. An artist who has always been fascinated by found photographs, he bought them, wondering why these enigmatic family portraits were abandoned.
Phillips began sharing the vivid and kitschy images on Facebook where he asked, “Is This Your Mother?” The unknown couple is seen at a holiday party, on a tropical cruise, posing on an iceberg in Alaska and in front of famous places. The more images he shared, the more intent he became on finding the people in the pictures.
The number of visitors to the page grew quickly, and a disparate search party of amateur genealogists and online sleuths emerged. They foraged for hidden details, scouring census databases and immigration records for possible connections. Others participated by remarking about the fashions of the period, or by proposing imaginary dialog that might have occurred between the two unknown persons.
Could the social media community help restore their identities, or would they be lost forever?
Lost and Found is a unique exhibition of photography that tells the story of a social media search party attempting to discover the identities of an anonymous couple who traveled the world more than 50 years ago. This exhibition presents the beauty, humor, and mystery of found photographs and explores the intersection of photography, social media, and our places in history.