When The House Burns Down

By Rachel Newdorf

Deborah Lash lost everything when she was 8.

Her house burned down leaving her family homeless. With little to no material objects, Lash and her five siblings kept each other company and occupied while their parents dealt with the burden of trying to put their lives back together.

In her new solo-photography exhibit, “When The House Burns Down,” Lash revisited that difficult time and recreated it through photography.

“I’m grateful for this experience. To go back to those places brought back such a powerful memory,” Lash says.

In honor of Black History month, Lash’s exhibit will be displayed in Gallery 123 on the first floor of the Johnson Center. Her photography deals with issues of racism and what it means to be human and create intimate relationships with each other.

Lash, 29, from Fairfax, graduated from Mason in 2006 with a bachelor of arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies and earned her Master of Fine Arts in the fall of last year.

Because that experience was so powerful, she decided in the summer of 2009 to go back with two real-life friends, and recreate the experience.

Featured in her show are seven photographs of two friends, who are about Lash’s age when the fire happened. They are photographed playing in a field with sticks, trying to see if there is change in a Coca-Cola machine, as well as lying down on a sample mattress in a mattress store.

Lash let the models do as they pleased. She gave them very little direction because from her own experience, she had very little to go on while re-building her life after the fire.

“The most beautiful moments come from the unexpected,” Lash said.

Lash is currently working at SoA Print, a print shop located in the Art and Design Building on campus.

“When The House Burns Down” is currently open and runs until March 6.

For more information about the artist and her other works go to deborahlash.com