JANE SZABO BIO
Jane Szabo is a Los Angeles based fine art photographer with an MFA from Art Center in Pasadena, CA. Her work investigates issues of self and identity. Using self-portraiture and still life as a vehicle to share stories from her life, her work merges her love for fabrication and materials, with conceptual photography. Szabo brings many facets of visual art into her photographic projects, incorporating sculptural, performance and installation elements into her work. Her imagery is often infused with humor and wonder, ingredients that draw the viewer in, inviting them to linger and to have a dialogue with the work, and themselves. Her background in the film industry, creating prop and miniatures for theme parks, and overseeing set construction for film and television, undoubtedly informs her creative process.
Szabo’s photography has been exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster, CA, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, the Yuma Fine Art Center in Arizona, and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Oceanside Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, The Colorado Center for Photographic Arts, San Diego Art Institute, Los Angeles Center for Photography, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, and the 2015 Kaohsiung International Photographer Exhibition in Taiwan.
Her photographs have been featured in many publications and blogs including: The Huffington Post, Lenscratch, Silvershotz, Bokeh Bokeh, L’Oeil de la Photographie, F-Stop Magazine, Foto Relevance, Fraction, Your Daily Photo, A Photo Editor, Don't Take Pictures, Art & Cake, Diversions LA, ArtsMeme, and others.
Family Matters incorporates memory, metaphor and allegory to express the challenges, burdens and joys of my role as daughter, and now caretaker, of my elderly parents. My mother and father recently faced a daunting move into assisted living; they are struggling after a series of strokes, memory loss and the decline of their cognitive abilities. This series uses objects gathered from the family home to tell the story of my role within this family.
After moving my 86 year-old father and my 91 year-old mother into an assisted living apartment, I began organizing the contents of their home. When they left, they walked out the front door of their home of 36 years, with barely a glance behind them, leaving unopened mail on the table, and me behind, to sort through the chaos. Over the months, I returned to make the final selection of which treasures I would keep, and to tie up all the loose ends before putting the home on the market.
Family Matters uses objects from their home, and my childhood, staged as still lifes, to illustrate the story of our relationship. Using childhood possessions, and simple items that have been in the family for years, I create tableaus that hint at complicated family dynamics. The presentation of these objects is not merely a catalog of possessions, but a catalog of feelings; of pain and disappointment, hope, loss and burden.
The challenge of assisting parents who live 1000 miles away has changed my life drastically. Working through these feelings in this project has helped me unravel, and resolve, many issues that I was unable to confront about our past. Though seeing my parents age and decline is difficult, I feel I have been given a gift to be able to be a significant part of this transition.
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.