New work by Evergreen seniors Monica Jane Frisell and Jacob Hurner plays with the relationship between individual and environment as subjects are positioned in colorful sets created to mirror their personality and aesthetic leanings.
A new little show has popped up in the library basement (okay, it’s technically the first floor, but it feels pretty basement-y to me) on the hallway wall between Photoland and Electronic Media. Woody’s Wall, as it’s called for some mysterious reason, is a somewhat informal exhibit space for work created by Evergreen students and, though it’s a little hard to find, it’s worth it (ask someone in Photoland if you get lost!) Woody’s Wall is currently home to a lovely series of portraits – the product of a quarter-long artistic collaboration between Evergreen seniors Monica Jane Frisell and Jacob Hurner. Frisell is an Instructional Photo intern who makes amazing work, and I’m not sure what Hurner does other than style sweet sets, but I’m sure whatever it is, it’s really cool.
Anyway, about the photographs… Created during winter quarter of this year, the series “aims to show people in spaces that were informed by the models’ personal style and clothing.” To start off the project, each subject was interviewed by Hurner about their stylistic choices. They were asked questions like: “Are your clothes utilitarian? Do you think style is important to who you are? Are your clothes an extension of yourself…of your identity?” to gain a sense of the models’ aesthetics and the way these aesthetics are tied to their personalities. After conducting the interviews, Frisell and Hurner worked together to build elaborate sets each tailored to the individual subject. Every prop and backdrop in the photographs is intended to showcase an aspect of the subject’s personal style.
The series is immediately striking, particularly for the images’ size and incredible detail. Frisell chose to shoot the series with a large format camera (also called a view camera) for both the outstanding image quality and the engagement between photographer and subject created by its presence. Some background – a large format camera is, well, large…and beautiful, and impossible to ignore. It also requires a lot of precision and focus (ha ha) from the photographer, and necessitates that subjects sit very still, evoking the seriousness and importance of traditional, pre-35mm portraiture.
Frisell asserts that these are not candid photographs – each required hours of preparation in the Photoland photo studio, and are the product of collaboration between photographer, stylist, and subject. Printing them large (they look like they are at least 30” tall) shows off the incredible resolution produced by a large format camera, and draws the viewer in. The subjects’ direct eye contact with the camera further piques the viewer’s interest and this eye contact, paired with the eye-level positioning of the photographs, gives them an almost eerie magnetism. I pass by this wall several times every day, and I still stop and look.
You can find the show in Library first floor hallway, between Photoland and Electronic Media. This work won’t be up for too much longer, so I highly recommend getting yer butt down to Photoland in the coming week or two to check it out!