ARTIST STATEMENT - Karen Amy Finkel Fishof

By pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, I produce large scale, life-size, one-of-a-kind photograms.


I start with what interests me, not just ideas, but the relationship between ideas. Figures are not only in a physical space but a psychological one as well. From a pictorial standpoint, compositional organization is paramount.


I stage scenes on photo paper in the darkroom, expose them to light, and then develop them traditionally with black and white chemistry. Moments are captured with no negative, revealing how various objects live in the light and how light wraps around them. I capture that living dance on 2D, still, photo paper.


I consider the process, drawing with light. It provides strong imagery and narrative, with hidden subtleties. Inverted shadows fly across the paper creating arresting visions. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation. Figures are firmly planted in their own surreal, distorted space. Unlike conventional photography, each piece is a one-of-a-kind, like a painting.


I am influenced by all artistic mediums including interior design, film, music, fashion, and social media. I've worked in all these areas professionally and draw from their current trends. Inspiration may come from current events, personal experiences or from found objects. Creating photograms allows me to collage these areas together into one cohesive image statement. 


All persons and objects serve a double role. Not only are they instruments in imagery, but they also declare a statement about the medium itself. We are forced to recognize a new aspect of the person or object touching the surface, the form itself.


There is a presence that remains of the people and objects, sort of like when you see the handprints on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame". You know that the person had physical contact with the paper, unlike conventional photography or portraiture. Not only are the figures actors in a drama, but they are also portraits of the models and reflect their inherent personalities.


The work makes one cognizant of the relationship we have with objects. We almost always have an object in our hands, whether it be a phone, pen, fork, cup, remote control, gun, bible or flowers. We are dependent on them and they define us.


My work merges socio-political and religious content with sculptural, painterly objects in its own reality experience. The pieces are theatrical stills, each with its own story. Cultural traditions are celebrated and interlaced throughout the work.


Recent photograms explore contemporary issues of parenting, politics and the intersection of gender and religion, defining my identity, confronting stereotypes and moving between the secular and the sacred.

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