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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 stage scenes in the darkroom, posing people, objects, and text on the floor over photo paper. I then expose them to light and develop them traditionally. 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 provides strong narrative imagery, with hidden subtleties. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation by applying self-imposed strategic constraints to disrupt the histories and conventions of contemporary photography. The works 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 occupy not only a physical space, but a psychological and spiritual one as well. These narrative dramas, evoke a story for us to participate in, and invite us into their surreal, fantastic reality. The characters are firmly planted in their own 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. We are forced to recognize a new aspect of the person or object touching the surface, the form itself. 


There is something about facing a replica of life-sized human, to scale, that warrants our own personal reflection and bids the question; “What do I see of myself in this?”

There is a presence that remains of the figures, 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 and physical features.


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, cup, remote control, gun, bible, or flowers. We are dependent on them, and they define us.

Recent photograms explore contemporary issues of the human spirit, 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.

I'm also working on a film, an installation and a sculpture! Stay tuned!

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