Friday, February 25, 2011

Rebecca Villarreal reviews Joy Christiansen Erb

Joy Christiansen Erb is a photographer in Youngstown, Ohio, she teaches at the Youngstown State University. She actively exhibits her work which also includes installations; her photographic work includes traditional processes, alternative processes and digital media. Some of her current exhibitions she has art in are Spinning Yarns: Photographic Story Tellers, Home…Is Where the Camera Is, and Louisiana Purchase: National Juried Exhibition.
What drew me to Christiansen Erb’s work were the images picked out in Libby’s catalog she passed around the other day. They were part of her Portrait of a Mother, series putting the two pictures of her c-section scar and her son’s heart surgery scar together, kind of rocked me in a weird cliché way. It sent a powerful message about life and some of the struggles mothers have to go through to keep their children and families going. After reading her statement in the catalog I was intrigued to see the rest of the series, to see if she actually was able to capture the change in her body and show the through the eyes of a mother what it feels like to watch your child be sick and not be able to fix it.
I would have to say she succeeded in her goals, going through the rest of the series you feel as though you are her with sleepless nights, seeing machines and tubes keep your child alive. I have yet to have one of my own, but those photos are powerful. I Where I think she failed a little was in her statement she said she was trying to step away from herself and be objective in her photos, I don’t know that I would say she was able to completely remove herself behind the camera.
In the end I’d have to say her work is compelling to experience, and it’s not just this series. Some of her other series on her website are really interesting and neat ideas that deal with family and its many aspects. You are also able to see how she incorporates image and installation.

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