Jane Szabo received an MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Her award winning photography has been has been exhibited across the United States. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Vermont Photo Place Gallery, The Dark Room Gallery, PhotoSpiva, San Diego Art Institute Museum of the Living Artist, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art and Gallery 825 in Los Angeles.
I my opinion one could substitute the word “tinkerer” for artist. For me, the act of being an artist is the act of working with my hands, creating things out of seemingly nothing or the mundane, making things look beautiful and drawing your attention to details. My work is strongly informed by my history as a painter and mixed media artist. Though I have a camera in my hands, I still think and create like a painter as I play with composition, color, and abstraction.
After a successful career in the film industry, I am now able to approach my art making with no strings attached. I can explore and experiment and take risks. This freedom to finally “play” has led me to develop new bodies of work that take me outside of my comfort zone as I explore social and psychological aspects of myself and those around me. I am deeply interested in the human condition and my work explores how we live, how we relate to each other, and how we feel about our self-identity.
Making art is a never-ending process of self-discovery and exploration. One project or idea leads to the next, and the work constantly evolves. It is the most exciting road to travel, and I will stay on it learning, growing and “tinkering” to the very end.
Reconstructing Self is a project that merges fabrications with conceptual photography. In this series of self-portraits, I playfully explore issues of identity in an ambitious juxtaposition of fashion, sculpture, installation and photography.
Photographs of dresses, made from familiar objects such as wrapping paper, coffee filters and road maps, suggest a persona, and become a stand in for my self. The identities represented in these forms illustrate who I am, who I am not, and who I wish to be. Though these works are self-portraits, the lack of human form makes the dresses universal. With references to paper doll dresses and childhood playtime, one can imagine these personas could be put on and removed at will as the mood and personality change.
The balance between the self and the world outside can be a precarious one. We struggle to find a way to individualize ourselves, yet often merely blend in among the masses. Presented as a typology, the dresses encourage the viewer to look closely to analyze the differences and similarities, and perhaps to fit themselves i to one or more of these dresses or “selves.” Drawing from my own background, I create still lifes, pairing objects with the dresses . I expand the story by inviting the viewer to contemplate the connections, and create their own mythology. The empty forms suggest alienation or loneliness, while the materials and objects simultaneously strive for individuality and uniqueness.
Sense of Self After shooting many portraits of people in their homes and attempting to tap in to a psychological element, I realized that I was frequently referencing my own self-identity and issues. It was then time to turn the camera around and start working further outside my comfort zone. It was time to expose my “Self” and reveal my own vulnerability. I am currently working on a series of self-portraits entitled Sense of Self. Many of the images within the project document a process or activity. Blur, movement and light are used to add a psychological element to the work. This is a large body of work and is much more conceptual and experimental than my previous projects. These images explore my struggle to maintain a rigid sense of order upon my self and my environment (a process that is failing). This attempt and failure to contain chaos parallels my personal struggles and sense of identity. Unfortunately, this self-imposed rigid sense of order, a self that wants to grid, to sort, to map, to control, conflicts with my need to escape into freedom.
dis.place.ment This series of environmental portraits, which are shot in the subject’s home, have an added twist. A parent is photographed in a child’s room, a child is presented in a parent’s space, and activities occur in unusual places. The displacement of the subject makes the viewer pay special attention to their surroundings.
I recently was asked the very valid question as to why I had chosen to photograph people.
When returning to the camera after a long hiatus, the first thing I said was “I don’t shoot people.” And yet, here I am, inviting myself into people’s homes, invading their personal spaces and looking deeply into their psyches. As humans, we are drawn into the lives of others, yet we see our own reflection. I hope this project serves to allow each viewer a moment of self-reflection. These beautiful images invite you in, but once inside they force you to question your own identity, and your relationship with others.
I’m with the Band Being married to a musician means many late nights in dark and often smoky venues. After getting the obligatory “live” shots that every band member craves, I began to investigate the behind the scenes moments that are so much more personal. I’m with the Band documents one short week while hanging out with The Other Mules, a nasty blues band, as we peruse the clubs of Amsterdam and its neighboring cities.
In other bodies of work I bring my eye and sensibility as a painter. Using macro lenses, and manipulating light and depth of field as a way to create painterly forms, I am experimenting with shooting everyday objects and showing them in abstracted views, emphasizing texture and form.