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. The work is thought-provoking, visually compelling and a challenge to norms grounded in integrity.
I stage scenes on photo paper in the darkroom, expose them to light, and then develop them traditionally with black and white chemistry. Photograms provide the medium I need to tell my stories. Through them, I can communicate. I love the creative process of these works, from the exposure to the development. The magic of seeing the image appear when the photo paper is placed in the chemistry, knowing it was a moment captured with no negative, and the anticipation in the darkroom of seeing how various objects live in the light and how light wraps around them, fascinates me. I then capture that living dance on 2D, still, photo paper. Unlike conventional photography, each piece is a one-of-a-kind, like a painting and bears a painterly feel.
I consider the process drawing with light. It gives me the strong imagery and narrative, with hidden subtleties. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation. From a pictorial standpoint, compositional organization is paramount.
I start with what interests me, not just ideas, but the relationship between ideas. My work merges socio political content with sculptural, painterly objects in its own reality experience. The pieces are theatrical stills, each with its own story.
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.
Figures are not only in a physical space, but a psychological one as well. The characters are firmly planted in their own surreal, distorted space. All persons and objects serve a double role. Not only are they instruments in imagery, but 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.
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. The work engages the viewer to explore the definition of photography as well as examine their pre-existing ideas of the various content.