Fine Art Photography Daily

Lenscratch Student Prize, Second Place: Rana Young

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Rana Young places second in this year’s LENSCRATCH Student Prize, with work that informs just as much as it fathoms. While romantic intimacy turned platonic between Rana and her partner of six years, Rana sought to photograph the metaphorical glimpses that illustrated ideas of finding self. In her body of work The Rug’s Topography, the exploration of gender roles and how they can function within the confines of romantic expectation certainly finds its importance. However, I do believe this work to be a fascinating collaboration as Rana begins to identify herself as something entirely new, in relation to who she was, and in relation to an old lover. It is in these poetic gestures and the gaze of the photographer that we are privileged to see through the unique window of an indescribable partnership.

Rana Young (b. 1983, Missouri) is an MFA candidate, Othmer Fellowship recipient, and Instructor of Record at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Rana also serves as an on-call Exhibitions Technician and Installation Photographer for the Sheldon Museum of Art. She is a recipient of the Society for Photographic Education 2016 Innovations in Imaging Award and has been exhibited in group exhibitions in galleries such as Newspace Center for Photography and Midwest Center for Photography, as well as being included in public art projects such as Photolucida’s Then.Now.Here. Before returning to the Midwest to pursue graduate studies, Rana spent six years living in Portland, Oregon. There she earned her BFA from Portland State University, held gallery internship positions at Blue Sky Gallery/Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts & Black Box Gallery, and served as a freelance photographer for Willamette Week.

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The Rug’s Topography

The Rug’s Topography began with me photographing my intimate partner of six years, staging him as a conduit for my own fears and insecurities. These anxieties arose in response to distance widening within our shared private space. You could say we were growing apart romantically while we were growing up together. We were coming to terms with what roles we served in our relationship based on examples from our upbringings. When my partner revealed his internal struggle with expected gender roles, I started to re-evaluate the expectations that I had projected onto him. We ultimately determined we had compromised beyond our comfort zones resulting in a mutual acceptance that the context of our relationship could change, but our emotional intimacy did not have to be sacrificed.

The staged portraits and ambient photographs create a cyclical narrative capturing the push-pull through the liminal space between the performative self and the expected self and serve as my reflections on the trajectory and circumstances within our relationship, past and present. The vantage point allows access into the private domain to witness the madness of self-discovery. The ebbs and flows of growth redefining identity are highlighted through themes of intimacy, transition, and introspection within the home.

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