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Prom Night ’62

7 January 2010 No Comment


I pilfered this post from my old blog and wanted to post it here again as I love this photo so much. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I found it as it was so long ago.

“Prom Night ’62: Alone with Mr. McNamara” should have been the name of this photo.

I wanted to write about it but wasn’t sure why––not because of the kitschy aspect––that itself is of course fun but not the most interesting part of the photo. It may be the oddly symmetrical nature; the brick pattern on the wall in relation to the well, the conical ruffled dress and upward sweep of the pine trees.

Each prop contradicts (or compliments?) the other: She’s standing at a well, made of a brick-patterned cardboard within another brick enclosure, a river of gray crepe paper is draped over more brick and just beyond the door opening is yet another brick ensemble. Brick leading into more brick––a sort of sloppy Ikea display or a tossed sketch from Escher’s trash bin. It’s hard to tell if it’s really a set of stairs or another background––did she come through there? Or was she always there?

Not an uncommon prom photo, certainly apt for its time, but it’s sinister, the unharmonious mixture of artificial materials and the girl, smack in the middle, dressed to kill, not a hair out of place, perfect pink with white gloves and a tiara. It’s as if her geometry teacher had wandered in the room and said “Hey, let’s have a photo!” The girl looks caught in the headlights––somehow she ended up alone with Mr. McNamara.

“Beautiful, beautiful, you’re a perfect inverted Isosceles triangle ” he says then sighs, runs his hands over the ruffles of her dress. We need to get her out of there quickly! A mad rush from stale colors and pencil worn fingers! She steps back and falls into the well, pink taffeta slips over the edge and she is gone. The teacher is alone now, he looks over inside the well, it’s empty, a slew of old straws, paper cups, popcorn and corsets litter the bottom.

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