Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sylvia Gutierrez reviews Susan Kae Grant

An American photographer, Susan Kae Grant received her MFA in Photography and Book Arts in 1979 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is the head of Photography and Book Arts at Texas Woman’s University and as well teaches workshops annually at the International Center for Photography. Grants investigates REM sleep, dreams, memory and the unconscious within her on-going series, Night Journey. This series is a representation of the seven years she spent doing research in collaboration with sleep scientist, Dr. John Herman. On multiple occasions, Susan used herself as a subject at the Southwestern Medical Center Sleep Laboratory to video and audio record herself when awakened from REM sleep. Within the Night Journey series, Susan uses these recordings to access unexplained moments that lead to a mystifying representation of space between reality and illusion.
To create these dream-state images, Grant photographs the shadows of models and props in her studio with a 4x5 view camera with a digital leaf back. Some of these fabricated environments can take up to three months to build, but in the end they become surrogates for what once was. By playing with perspective, lighting, silhouettes and the imagination, Susan Grant creates wonderful scenarios and brings in the viewers into her dreams, memories, unconscious and nightmares only to have them wanting more of the stories. As one can see with these tree images, the spotlight aesthetic creates that dark and ominous ambience as it taps into fantasy and imagination. Although the photographs look simple since they are only shadows but the construction and execution is rather complex.

Balance, #058
Chapter IV: Visions of an Insomniac
44”x32” Giclée 
Nightingale, #073
Chapter V: Theatrical Realms of the Whimsical and Tragic
44”x32”, Archival Pigment Print

Waiting for the Exact Moment to Respond, #009
Chapter II: Fragmented Questions

44”x32” Giclée

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