Some families send out their standard annual greeting cards filled with holiday spirit, but there's something different about the ones Suzanne Heintz makes. Bill Geist reports.
Suzanne Heintz, Photographer, Art Director, and “Modern Day Patron St. of Single Women,” was recently featured on the popular television news show, CBS Sunday Morning, for her long term photo project, “Life Once Removed: The Holiday Cards.” The popular segment focuses on Suzanne’s highly unusual Holiday Cards, in which she poses for her annual Christmas Picture with her family of Mannequins, or “Familyquins,” consisting of her Husband, Chauncey, and perpetually 8 year old Daughter, Mary Margaret.
"It’s my answer to the plague of popular photo holiday cards showing growing babies and puppies. But I'm not married, what am I supposed to do? I snapped under the pressure to conform. So I went out and bought my own family that I could take pictures of too."
Suzanne is to the Single Girl, what Joan of Arc was to the the King of France. She is on a Comic Crusade of Acceptance for those who live outside the norm of Traditional Life Expectations. Her hope is to allow the members of the Post-Ozzie and Harriet Generations to live and let live - married, or single, with, or without child. Yet living all the while with the acute awareness that life is not about the pursuit of the Image of a happy life, it is about the Feeling.
Why go to all that trouble? To get the point across. “The project is funny, but it’s got a serious message. Is it more important that I fit an image of Life, or enjoy the shape my own has taken?” As a Photographer, Suzanne questions why we all seem to love & obey the formatted image of a well-lived life. She is disturbed by that automatic grin most put on when a camera is present. She feels that Family Photos, particularly Holiday Photos, are supposed to record heart-felt memories. Yet, in a time where virtually every experience is photographed & projected for the world to see, the meaning is often lost. “It’s never been more important to stop, and turn your awareness towards feeling the moment being photographed. Whether it’s recorded or not, life passes quickly. I want to make sure we live our lives aware of how it feels and what it actually means, not just how it appears, and whether or not it fits some prescribed mold.”
Suzanne’s photos and videos have evolved into Public Performance Pieces to get the word out. Her set-ups are often highly conspicuous, meant to stop people in their tracks. She invites Public Interaction, in order to entertain and garner support for the evolving Face of the Modern Life Path. Tradition is changing, and so should our expectations. Suzanne Heintz is carrying the Flag with her Familyquins at her side. She plans to release a book of the photographs, and continue the Crusade for the years to come, or until Mary Margaret goes to College.