JULIE BLACKMON: Domestic Vacations

Rooster, 2007 © Julie Blackmon / All rights reserved

Powerade, 2005 © Julie Blackmon / All rights reserved

PC, 2005 © Julie Blackmon / All rights reserved
Inspired by the Velásquez painting Las Meninas

Front Porch, 2005 © Julie Blackmon / All rights reserved

The Dissolute Household painting by Jan Steen

The Dutch proverb "a Jan Steen household" originated in the 17th century and is used today to refer to a home in disarray, full of rowdy children and boisterous family gatherings.
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JULIE BLACKMON is the oldest of nine children and now the mother of three. Her photographs have been honored with numerous awards since she began exhibiting, including American Photo Emerging Artists 2008, first prize from CENTER/Santa Fe Center for Photography Project Competition, and PDN's 30, among others.

DOMESTIC VACATIONS: "The paintings of Steen, along with those of other Dutch and Flemish genre painters, helped inspire this body of work. As Steen’s personal narratives of family life depicted nearly 400 yrs. ago, the conflation of art and life is an area I have explored in photographing the everyday life of my family and the lives of my sisters and their families at home. These images are both fictional and auto-biographical, and reflect not only our lives today and as children growing up in a large family, but also move beyond the documentary to explore the fantastic elements of our everyday lives, both imagined and real.

The stress, the chaos, and the need to simultaneously escape and connect are issues that I investigate in this body of work. We live in a culture where we are both "child centered" and "self-obsessed." The struggle between living in the moment versus escaping to another reality is intense since these two opposites strive to dominate. Caught in the swirl of soccer practices, play dates, work, and trying to find our way in our "make-over" culture, we must still create the space to find ourselves. The expectations of family life have never been more at odds with each other. These issues, as well as the relationship between the domestic landscape of the past and present, are issues I have explored in these photographs. I believe there are moments that can be found throughout any given day that bring sanctuary. It is in finding these moments amidst the stress of the everyday that my life as a mother parallels my work as an artist, and where the dynamics of family life throughout time seem remarkably unchanged. As an artist and as a mother, I believe life’s most poignant moments come from the ability to fuse fantasy and reality: to see the mythic amidst the chaos." — Julie Blackmon

Julie Blackmon 2009 New Work
Radius Books "Domestic Vacations"


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I am so fascinated with her work. Funny- I deleted a question to you about her- really just to say comment on- and here it is. One of her photographs was on the cover of Oxford American's home issue in 2008 and the first one I saw. Of course the interiors draw me- and your inclusion of Jan Steen's painting put it in perfect context and a deeper appreciation.gt

Amanda Stone Talley said...

Amazing Photographs! I know little of current photographic techniques. Is it possible that her photographs are edited to provide a surrealistic palette? Or could someone take unaltered photographs that look so otherworldly? Not that it affects the merit of her work--I was just curious..

Rose C'est La Vie said...

I should have looked more closely at your great blog before and thank you for visiting mine.

I particularly love this work and the reference to Dutch interiors. The artificial naturalism of the staging reminds me of Jeff Wall.

Anonymous said...

When content becomes a slave to technique and the subject matter is obtuse on purpose.

I am struck by the lack of emotion in JB's photographs. They seem to be a fictional study of a frozen, frozen life. The images are crafted with great skill and her prowess as an image maker is remarkable. Yet, her photographs lack any glimmer of passion, either happiness or grief or anything in-between.

I am reminded of Wynn Bullock's "Navigation Without Numbers"...the infant was adrift on the blackness of the bed, yet the
mother was still in frame, there out of reach with love and offering security. Her "made-up" scenarios are so strict in their adherence to her "art" style guide, I yearn for an emotional relief, a smile, anger, anything real.

I remember a moment years ago when I told a promising young photographer that I knew a few creative directors in advertising that would love her photography for "brand image" assignment work....her reply, "I am an artist." Of course the thing about ad work is that emotions are important to help communicate the message.