In Matthew Harrison Tedford’s review of the the Westward show at San Francisco City Hall titled “In Their Versions of the West, the Landscapes Are Never Empty,” my work along with Greta Pratt’s, Kathya Maria Landeros’, and Mercedes’ Dorame’s. The following is his mention of my work:
“From the Marlboro Man to Yosemite Sam, the West is often thought of as a place of maximum masculinity, a place of grit, determination and heroic self-actualization, particularly for cowboys, miners, bikers and the like. The misleadingly named Pacific Ocean can itself be seen as a site of adventure and danger. But in Death Wooed Us, Donna J. Wan presents the California coast in a series of seductive and often airy photographs. Golden Gate Bridge (#6), for example, depicts a small sailboat enveloped by the Golden Gate’s hallmark fog. The scene appears calm, but the insignificance of the boat against the backdrop of the Pacific suggests an inherent danger.
The settings of Death Wooed Us aren't just beautiful sites to Wan—she chose to photograph locations that have attracted those wishing to end their lives. Wan herself was drawn to them when she experienced a severe case of postpartum depression. She says her intention was not to romanticize suicide, but to offer a glimpse into the minds of those who seek out beautiful places in which to die. Though it may take great strength to overcome the desire to end one’s life, Wan is open to and emphasizes this vulnerability.
Long before Wan captured her images, one of the most famous early photographers of the Western United States was Timothy O'Sullivan, a member of a federal geological survey of the region in the 1860s. O’Sullivan’s documentation of the region presents landscapes of profound emptiness often with no reference to local human history, which stretches back more than 10,000 years. Erasure of history is an instrument of colonialism that primes societies to take over that which is not theirs. At the same time, calling attention to this history or re-inserting it into the landscape is an act of reclamation.”