J Morgan Post
School of Visual Arts New York (SVA), 2002, BFA
Utah State University, 2010, MFA
J. M. Post began his journey as a photographer early in life, when given an SLR camera it captured and focused his imagination and creative energies. At fifteen, he was admitted into the Young Photographers program at the Maine Media workshops. After high school, he applied to Rockport College’s Associate of Arts degree program in Maine. At Rockport, he honed his craft and love for traditional black and white photography.
After graduating, Post realized that he needed more visual, technical and practical work experience. He transferred to the School Of Visual Arts in New York City where he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree. His drive for pushing himself into conceptual fine art photography helped establish him in studio management for several high end commercial photography studios in New York City. Realizing he wanted to become the primary shooter instead of a manager, Post moved to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles he developed a list of major clients, both as photographer and digital artist. These clients include Guess Online, Bloomingdales, Rolling Stone, Elle, and Vogue.
As the economy started to sink into recession, Post took the opportunity to return to school to rediscover and extend his fine art voice. He was accepted into Utah State University’s Masters of Fine Arts program. His studies helped meld his eye for the leading edge of imaging and visual communication with traditional photographic processes from photography’s beginnings.
Post has pursued this track for several years now, learning how to coat his own glass plates with collodion and other toxic chemicals involved in the process. He builds his own cameras, plate holders, lighting while teaching himself and rediscovering the potential of an antiquarian photographic process, producing one of a kind glass plates called Ambrotypes. Ambrotypes date from the mid-nineteenth century and he’s found them well-suited to the artistic vision driving his work which features highly stylized imagery.
He often begins by incorporating gender-specific art history references, then alters and updates their metaphors, and sometimes in the process even neutralizes their original gender specificity to produce androgynous pieces as visual commentary on the social evolution which has changed our view of gender, roles and sexuality. His work thus uses the means and conventions of 19th Century technology to create a contrast and tension which highlights the social ethos of the rapidly evolving 21st.
His work has been accepted into the Kinsey Institute’s International Juried art exhibition as part of their permanent collection, and other recent work has appeared in other online exhibitions and numerous print publications. Post’s current projects are created not to offend or shock for the sake of shock value, but rather to increase our awareness of long-standing social stereotypes and address the need for a positive change in human understanding of relationships through the ages.
The body of work titled, Photographic Studies of Gender in Western Art History, references contemporary gender based issues and the cultural tendencies of gender specific roles in western history. This concept is explored through an antiquarian photographic technique called collodion ambrotypes. The use of high gloss black stained glass reflects an image of the viewer inside the frame, creating a heightened tension, as the viewer becomes part of the subject. The textural quality is evident on the glass surface but fades depending on how the image surface is seen. When the viewer moves in relationship to the work, their shifting viewpoint creates visual variations between images, contrasting pre-twenty-first century mores with contemporary attitudes and beliefs of human sexuality and intimacy.
Creating an homage to historical works, I utilize the fleshy bodies of an inclusive sample of twenty-first century relationships. In the first of two examples, I reorganized nineteenth century Eugene Delacroix‘s Death of Sardanapalus, idealizing mans boundless control over civilization. I intentionally altered the tableau, using a revised Greek monument as the backdrop, and including a large harem of men worshiping a lone man on the table. A second example of this work is based on an iconic twentieth century image, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait 1980. Mapplethorpe is de-masculinized and reveals feminine features that blur the lines of his associated identity. Expanding on these ideas, I chose to photograph a drag queen named “Tony” in full attire. The subject engages the viewer, directly acknowledging their presence, and requiring a moment of consideration. This body of work asks the viewer consider people for who they are and how they wish to be seen.
“A good photograph is one that communicates…touches the heart, leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it.” - Irving Penn -