Jane Szabo is a Los Angeles based fine art photographer with an MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Her work investigates issues of self and identity. Using self-portraiture and still life as a vehicle to share stories from her life, her work merges her love for fabrication and materials, with conceptual photography. Szabo brings many facets of visual art into her photographic projects, incorporating sculptural, performance and installation elements into her work. Her imagery is often infused with humor and wonder, ingredients that draw the viewer in, inviting them to linger and to have a dialogue with the work, and themselves. Her background in the film industry, creating prop and miniatures for theme parks, and overseeing set construction for film and television, undoubtedly informs her creative process.
Szabo’s work is in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA) and her photography has been exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster, CA, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Yuma Fine Art Center in Arizona, and Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Oceanside Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, The Colorado Center for Photographic Arts, San Diego Art Institute, Los Angeles Center for Photography, Tilt Gallery in Arizona, Houston Center for Photography in Texas, Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, the Kaohsiung International Photographer Exhibition in Taiwan and fotofever in Paris, France.
Her photographs have been featured in many publications and blogs including: The Huffington Post, Lenscratch, Silvershotz, Bokeh Bokeh, L’Oeil de la Photographie, F-Stop Magazine, Foto Relevance, Fraction, Your Daily Photo, A Photo Editor, Don’t Take Pictures, Art & Cake, Diversions LA, ArtsMeme and others.
incorporates memory, metaphor and allegory to express the challenges, burdens and joys of my role as daughter, and now caretaker, of my elderly parents. My mother and father recently faced a daunting move into assisted living; they are struggling after a series of strokes, memory loss and the decline of their cognitive abilities. This series uses objects gathered from the family home to tell the story of my role within this family.
After moving my 86 year-old father and my 91 year-old mother into an assisted living apartment, I began organizing the contents of their home. When they left, they walked out the front door of their home of 36 years, with barely a glance behind them, leaving unopened mail on the table, and me behind, to sort through the chaos. Over the months, I returned to make the final selection of which treasures I would keep, and to tie up all the loose ends before putting the home on the market.
Family Matters uses objects from their home, and my childhood, staged as still lifes, to illustrate the story of our relationship. Using childhood possessions, and simple items that have been in the family for years, I create tableaus that hint at complicated family dynamics. The presentation of these objects is not merely a catalog of possessions, but a catalog of feelings; of pain and disappointment, hope, loss and burden.
The challenge of assisting parents who live 1000 miles away has changed my life drastically. Working through these feelings in this project has helped me unravel, and resolve, many issues that I was unable to confront about our past. Though seeing my parents age and decline is difficult, I feel I have been given a gift to be able to be a significant part of this transition.
The act of self-portraiture is akin to gazing into a mirror, except the gaze goes deeper; looking in to one’s self, not just at one’s reflection. In Reconstructing Self, I creatively explore self-portraiture, pushing the boundaries of the tradition, finding new ways to express self-identity. Reconstructing Self merges fabrications with conceptual photography in a series of self-portraits, playfully examining issues of identity in an ambitious juxtaposition of fashion, sculpture, installation and photography.
Photographs of dresses made from familiar objects such as coffee filters and dental x-rays, suggest a persona, and become a stand in for my self. The personas represented in these forms illustrate who I am, who I am not, and who I wish to be. Drawing from my own background, I create still-lifes, pairing objects with the dresses, building a story, and invite the viewer to contemplate the connections, and develop their own mythology.
The balance between the self and the world outside can be a precarious one. We struggle to find a way to individualize ourselves, yet often merely blend in among the masses. Presented as a typology, the photographs of dresses with their accompanying objects encourage the viewer to look closely to analyze the differences and similarities, and perhaps to fit themselves in to one or more of these dresses or “selves.” The empty forms suggest alienation or loneliness, while the materials and objects simultaneously strive for individuality and uniqueness. Though these works are self-portraits, with personal stories and memories embedded through the use of specific materials, the lack of human form makes the dresses universal. With references to paper doll dresses and childhood playtime, one can imagine these personas could be put on and removed at will as the mood, personality and stories change.