From Photo District News:
A crumbling, half-eaten yellow cake sits in a patch of sunlight in Frances F. Denny’s series “Let Virtue Be Your Guide,” published as a book in December by Radius Books and on view at ClampArt in New York until December 19. The book’s afterword by Lisa Locascio describes a Great Cake ordered by Martha Washington to celebrate her husband’s return, made with 40 eggs and pounds of butter, but Denny explained this one: “It’s a birthday cake,” she said in a recently published interview. “It resembles a kind of crumbling edifice. I see the WASP world disappearing.” The series documents that disappearing world in Denny’s own family, recording rooms filled with paintings of ancestors and a hand-drawn family tree dating back to 1550, floral wallpaper and stained table clothes. Denny also made portraits of family sitting in these handsome rooms. Set among the images are texts from unnamed members of the family, identified only by the year of their birth, explaining the WASP code they lived by. “In my family the default was decorum, but with kindness. A good grasp of language and an ability to engage in a conversation about ideas. Attention to personal grooming, with a preference for elegance. Dullness and shrinks were insupportable and topics of conversation would never include medical complaints, sex, money, or news of one’s children,” says someone born in 1949.