James Stephenson: Parallel Play
James Stephenson has created a whimsical and layered project capturing not only how and what we choose to photograph, but how children define themselves through artwork. Collaborating with his two young children, James creates new narratives that are a once humorous and revealing, allowing us to ponder identity and memory and the absurdity of a culture of documentation.
James was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in nearby Columbia. He received a B.A. in Computer Science from Gettysburg College and an M.S. in Computer Science from John’s Hopkins University. James’ memories of his grandparents’ photography careers inspired him to pick up a camera. As a kid, he watched them take pictures and exhibit in shows. Only later as an adult did he aspire to follow in their footsteps. James currently lives in Menlo Park, CA with his family.
As a parent, I’m fascinated by my young children’s imaginations. I want to learn what makes them tick. Their drawings provide a window into an inner world that I crave to know better. I started looking for ways to combine their art with my photography in exploration of this theme. The search led me to look around in public spaces at the way other people document themselves.The result has been Parallel Play, a collaboration between me, my children and unwitting strangers. In this project, I compare the worlds that adults and my children create for themselves.
Symbiotic connections form when I superimpose my children’s art with photographs of strangers documenting their moments in life. Glimpses into how my children see their world emerge while viewed alongside of how others want to remember themselves.
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