Jen Frase: Bluebirds
It certainly helps to have a sense of humor as a parent. I can remember seeing so much of my own parenting through a humorous lens, trying to hold back laughter when I was supposed be serious and in control. There were plenty of small moments that revealed the hilarity and absurdity of raising children, and I was always trying to maintain the pretense that I knew what I was doing. As a photographer, it helps to have the foresight and ability to be an observer of the poignancy of childhood and yet capture it with that spark of whimsy and amusement, that Where’s Waldo of adulthood that is the small reward of catching that intangible moment with your lens.
San Francisco photographer Jen Frase has been hard at work documenting the world under her own roof creating photographs that celebrate the stew of family life, capturing the shiny objects of parenthood that grab her attention. Drawn to color, light, and unusual juxtapositions and framing, Jen’s work creates an off-kilter kaleidoscope of wonderment and fleeting moments preserved for later revelations. This investigation reflects her Academy of Art MFA thesis project and recent book, Bluebirds. Jen states: the work is personal yet universal, sweet yet odd, and funny yet wistful. It tells my story, but also the weird and beautiful story of childhood.
Jen Frase is a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently received her MFA degree in Photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her work focuses on family and is a hybrid of lyrical documentary and fine art. Her work has been shown nationally, including such galleries as the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO), the Black Box Gallery (Portland, OR), and the Lightroom Gallery (Berkeley, CA). She was also chosen as a Featured Artist in the Capital Artists’ Studio Tour (Sacramento, CA) and her work was also included in the prestigious Spring Show at the Academy of Art University.
Jen not only shoots fine art photography work, but she is also an Associate Photographer at the successful Nicole Paulson Photography Studio, located in San Francisco. She specializes in documentary, in-home storytelling sessions, where she can bridge her fine art work and client work in a meaningful way.
Most importantly, Jen hates squirrels, people who chew with their mouths open, snakes, and the TV show “Hoarders” because it gives her nightmares that she might wake up one day and need to create a goat path to get to her front door. She loves Taco Bell, “The Bachelor,” Adam Levine, her twin children, her tolerant husband and of course, photography.
I gave birth to twins eight years ago and although I knew it would be life changing, I really had no idea what a complex period of time this really is. My days are filled with moments of joy, stress, wonder, love, fear, humor and wistfulness. Not only do I experience a wide gamut of emotions, but they can all happen simultaneously. This series, entitled bluebirds, is a personal story about my life with my children, but it’s also a universal story about this peculiar, complex and beautiful time in life.
These images tell a narrative – the universal story of childhood. They tell the story of this remarkable time in life. The images illustrate the sweet, the profound and the peculiar – moments that are sometimes sensitive, sometimes odd, sometimes humorous, but always filled with love and appreciation. Each image can be taken at face value – the moments illustrated are unremarkable, just snippets from our daily lives. However, they are more complex than everyday depictions, as there is a deeper story embedded. They somehow embody a child’s world, a parent’s feelings and everything in between. I believe the images transcend the everyday to tell an evocative, universal story of this time in our lives, as a scrapbook of light, color, love, humor, telling moments, meaningful gestures and metaphor. There is beauty and poignancy in the complexity of it all. This stew of all things childhood is the essence of this body of work.
This series is an exploration into the world of childhood and I would love for viewers to see the images and relate to them – either as a memory of a simple snippet from their own world or a stirring of deeper emotion in what this time in our lives means to us. However, as a mom and a photographer, this work has also given me some power; choosing what images to capture and determining how I do that, allows me to slow the pace of our lives and gives me some control over something that is essentially uncontrollable – the passage of time.
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