Thesis Statement May 2010

“First and foremost, as a photographer, I am a manipulator of light.  The process that I utilize to create my pieces at its core is a layering of light that is eventually expressed physically using ink. Drawing, collage, and screen-printing which enables me to work freely through several mediums and artistic genres have informed the process I developed.

My images hold texture though not in the traditional way, with the building up of material that you can physically see raised and lowered on the surface of a piece. But rather, it is created through the transitions of colors, the motion of the images, and the scratches from the many screens.

The way I have stylized these images, through Photoshop adjustments, has been to embrace the desaturated marked-up quality that is associated with old analogue film, or motion picture film. My effort is to allude to historical photography using contemporary digital methods. By doing so I add a timeless quality to my pieces that also enhance the feeling of experience that I strive to evoke.

My work has always centrally involved the figure.  Mostly, I represent, figures who either confront themselves, the audience, and/or the space around them. I am of the opinion that any piece made is a self-portrait in some way.  It is therefore my belief that the figures I depict are more of a self-exploration than a depiction of another individual.  By exploring the moves and language of other people and figures, I find that I understand myself more and more.  Many ideas about the human condition can be – not answered, but explored by relating to others in conjunction with our selves.

The concepts I work through involve abstracting aspects of and or manipulating the figure in such a way that they are no longer a whole figure. I fragment, dissolve, cover, layer, piece together, and work over the figure. Through these processes I carve out and add on my own ideals and movements.

My figures are usually in transition between multiple moments, imposed with reflections, or morphing through space.  This compression of time and environment allows my still images to hold and emphasize movement.  The many layers of images reference the process of transferring these images from surface to surface while relaying the constant mutability of identity and self-comprehension.

My performance photo shoots, (i.e. my Meg series) have been heavily influenced by Duane Michals, who used photography and story line photos as a tool to investigate philosophy and scrutinize religion. From his own work I have been inspired to explore my own ideologies and beliefs.

Photography has always been likened to truth, but I vehemently disagree with that diagnosis. Photography does not represent truth, but experience. Has not light always been likened to knowledge? The capturing of light can be equated to learning from experience. For me, these pieces are not simply representations of figures, but rather knowledge of the human world as seen from my perspective. Roland Barthes once claimed, “The Photograph is … a cunning dissociation of consciousness from identity.” I agree with Barthes, and like this belief I maintain that my images are less about identity than they are about perceptions from experience.

My works are rooted in photography, but manipulated by drawing, collage, and screen-printing. The conversation that then occurs allows the pieces to associate with contemporary works while alluding to the history of photography and film. All the while they discuss knowledge as they reflect experience, but they never insinuate themselves as infallible.”

-Katharine Friedgen, ©2010, University of Maryland Honors Program

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