Jocelyn Lee | Visual Arts Fellow 2021
- November 17, 2020
Jocelyn Lee | Maine Arts Fellowship - Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I have made portraits of women and girls for over 35 years. I use the camera to explore psychological and physical states of being like puberty, pregnancy, sexuality, aging, illness and death. My photographs emphasize the tactile and sensual nature of the world and our place, as embodied beings, within its material continuum.
My new work Bountiful focuses primarily on portraits of women in dramatic natural landscapes, always naked. The women in this project represent all ages (the oldest being 85) and body types and are framed, submerged and entangled with the natural world in a way that emphasizes our sensual and ephemeral being.
Like all living things, the human body passes through similar stages of youth (bloom), young adulthood (blossoming), maturity (peak fertility), decline, and eventual death. It is neither a good nor bad thing, but simply true. By placing my subjects in the natural world, the photograph calls attention to our corporeal existence, co-dependent among all living things on earth.
As I age, I am increasingly passionate about making portraits of women and girls that do not fit traditional stereotypes of beauty. I am committed to making portraits of women living in real bodies in a culture that is obsessed with vanity and a narrow vision of what is beautiful—including advertising imperatives that encourage plastic surgery to defy the effects of age and gravity, as well as ruthless exercise and diet regimes to control curves and weight gain post menopause or childbirth.
All my portraits aim to expand our understanding of physical beauty by injecting a broader view of what real women look like into our shared image world (via exhibition, publication and social media platforms like Instagram). Through this work I hope to create a radical empathy for all beings and bodies that encourages the deeper realization that all physical beings are at their core sensual beings: aging is not antithetical to sexuality, and physical disability, surgery, age or fuller figures should never be equated with ugliness or undesirability. In short, no body is deserving of cultural invisibility or the denial of personal pleasure.
All of these images are made with a medium format film camera and are the result of a contemplative, slow relationship between myself, my models, and the landscapes within which they are created. The photographs are also an homage to Maine and New England. The landscape of Maine, and sometimes Massachusetts, are the silent partner and stage set underpinning all this work.
My current book Sovereign is a focused expression of this work, and features women over 55 naked in the landscape and at home. It will be released by Minor Matter Books in November of 2020.
Jane and Crashing Waves.
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