Sheryl Oring is exploring connections between public and private in an installation called "Lost," which delves into issues of personal and public loss through photos and text. The bulk of the photos stem from a public art project initiated after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in early 2010. The news images of mass destruction led Oring to organize a children's clothing collection drive in San Diego. While this city is 2,938 miles away from Port-au-Prince, it is nonetheless connected by a shared geologic risk for earthquakes. As she began sorting the clothing in her studio, she was compelled to photograph each item, making an archive of loss in the process. The stains and wrinkles gave each of the nearly 3,000 pieces of clothing its own personality, its own mysterious history.
A few months later, Oring's brother died an untimely death by suicide. Suddenly, these stark images (each piece of clothing was photographed on a white background and appears as if a piece of evidence) took on added meaning as they seemed to represent youth gone awry. The rows of photographs of children's clothing without the children themselves leads to questions about what happened to the kids who once wore them. The installation she is creating will include these thousands of photographs, displayed three-dimensionally in a gallery space. Family slides projected among the clothing will create a parallel narrative about private loss, and distance of another sort, the emotional distance between people.