Melanie Crs is an unabashed, honest-to-goodness New Yorker, and her photographs leave you with no doubt that she lives and breathes the City every waking minute. But one also gets the impression that she morphs with the city in her dreams as well… her work occupies the liminal space of the New York of the past/present. An image she may have taken yesterday could easily be mistaken for an image taken 60 years ago.
As a child she immersed herself in bundles of photographs at her grandmother’s home, drawn to those with untold or forgotten stories, what she calls “the mysteries”. Her own work echoes those mysteries, leaving broad swaths of questions left unanswered in many of her compositions.
Melanie’s work does not so much draw from as continues the traditions of big city documentary photographers past. You can imagine Helen Levitt framing the tricycle in her viewfinder, Vivian Meier quickly snapping the red shoes of a passerby.
Much less confrontational than Gary Winogrand, her images evoke a more nuanced, contemplative aesthetic along the lines of Walker Evans surreptitiously snapping photos in the New York Subway.
Many photos are almost like captures from dream sequences of our childhoods… a street corner we once hung out on, old friends, a favorite toy, an aunt’s hat… things that for whatever reason stick with us as we get older. These images are strangely comforting.
As a social worker, Melanie is very attuned to our humanity, its beauty and sadness all wrapped up into one. Everyone can see a part of themselves in her work, which makes it very difficult to turn away.
“Everyone has a different style of photographing. Mine is a mix of styles. But a style that viewers pick up and that I have realized over the years, is that my style is unintentionally, subconsciously converting modern into the past. I have an old soul. I thank my grandmother for this. The modern photographs that I do take are generated by what is naturally pleasing to my eye. As the great Robert Frank said: “I suppose my photographs are things I do not want to forget. My instinct tells me that they are important. They are quiet. They demand no attention. They are not empty.” I quote him, because these exact words and feeling resonates with me and why I photograph. I prefer candid photography because I am a Social Worker and I choose to capture people in a moment as their true selves, innocently stealing a part of their life for others, without knowing how much they are also giving, a never ending cycle of what makes art so special.”