Art + Science: Blood and Kin: JP Terlizzi
JP Terlizzi is an artist based in Manhattan, NY. His work focuses on memory and identity. In his series Descendants, he creates art pieces that envision physical and emotional connections between himself and his family lineage. He creates art constructions, combining paper and pigment ink (photographs of his ancestors), cloth (pieces of string) blood and glass.
The scientific data stored within his own blood and pressed between glass test plates provides Terlizzi’s most personal information, including disorders, infections, every virus he has ever had, and even mood disorders. The photographs of his ancestors provide another kind information, a visual record of their physical beings, memorializing family traits which are also passed on genetically by blood. The string literally binds the two worlds of science and art. It’s a daunting task to try and connect yourself to your line of ancestors, some of whom are either strangers or no longer alive. Yet by forging the science of genetics with artistic personal expression, Terlizzi shapes a unique vision that not only fills a void in his own life but gives hope to others that regaining a sense of identity is attainable.
I have always valued the notion of family and familial bonds. Growing up in a large, loving extended Italian family I found it disheartening that my relationship with my parents and brother was filled with abandonment, anger, bitterness and hostility. We don’t choose the caregivers to whom we are born, yet we can make our own decisions to positively shape and impact our self-identity and become the kinds of individual we choose.
As I witness an earlier generation of family members pass, it has become important to somehow preserve my past. Not having my own family archive of photos to look back upon, I reached out to a cousin, who is deemed the historian of our family, to go through his photographic archive. As I studied each new face in the three generations that have passed before me, my unconditional love grew stronger as I searched for secrets that each photograph might reveal about the familial lives my ancestors once led.
Through this work I have become interested in the origins of personal identity as it relates to my Italian lineage and its sartorial ancestry. I am curious about how the past relates to the present, and how the bloodline passed down through generations represents the passage of time. Utilizing a digital composite photograph of the old and the new, I incorporate my own blood specimens onto microscopic slides, stitching them on the image to create new family portraits as an archive and memorial that connects my identity with the past while preserving the present.
JP Terlizzi is an artist who uses photography to explore themes of memory, relationship, and identity. Drawing inspiration from his personal experiences he captures moments that convey narratives—whether the story is a framed moment that reveals something about family and home, or a poetic interpretation of a fading reality, the feeling of belonging and connection are recurring themes in his work.
Born and raised in the farmlands of Central New Jersey, JP currently lives in Manhattan. His career spans thirty plus years as creative director for a boutique agency specializing in retail design. He earned a BFAin Communication Design at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and has studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York and Maine Media College in Rockport ME. His work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad including shows at The Center for Fine Art Photography, Vicki Myhren Gallery at the University of Denver, Soho Photo Gallery in New York, The Griffin Museum, Tilt Gallery, A Smith Gallery, Candela Gallery, The Los Angeles Center of Photography, The Texas Photographic Society and The Berlin Foto Biennale, Berlin, Germany, among others.
JP was named as the Top 50 in the 2018 Photolucida Critical Mass for his series Descendants, which was also selected as winner of the 2018 International Portfolio Competition and awarded a solo exhibition at the Soho Photo Gallery in Manhattan. In addition, he was a 2016 and 2015 Critical Mass Finalist with his series Mother and Hunter’s Calling. In August 2019, JP will be having an upcoming solo exhibition of his series Descendants at Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts. His work can be found in both permanent and private collections and has been featured in PDN, Photo Emphasis, L’oeil de la Photographie, All About Photo, The Photo Review, F-Stop and Abridged Magazine.
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