Fine Art Photography Daily

Jessica Todd Harper: Here

Becky(familydinner)2020

©Jessica Todd Harper, Becky (family dinner), 2020

When I first wrote about Jessica Todd Harper’s photographs in 2009, I stated that she “has a painter’s eye, an artist’s soul, and a photographer’s intuition, and when these three qualities combine, you get images that that are sumptuous, rarefied, and exquisite.” Her vision has remained consistent and she is still creating work that feels like Dutch Master paintings, authentic without feeling staged, quiet yet yet filled with energy, beautiful but not saccharine.

Harper is ending the year with gifts for all of us. She has just released a new monograph titled Here, published by Damiani.  She has two exhibitions currently on view that accompany the book: one at Rick Wester Fine Art, NYC, through December 22nd, 2022, and one at Le Centre Claude Cahun, in Nantes, France, also through December 22nd, 2022. Her work is featured in the new exhibition, Kinship, at The National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian that runs from 2022-2024. And finally she is featured on the podcast ECONTALK: Jessica Todd Harper on Beauty, Family and Photography.

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©Jessica Todd Harper, book cover for Here

Pennsylvania-based photographer Jessica Todd Harper (born 1975) looks for the value in everyday moments. The characters in her imagery are the people around her―friends, herself, family―but it is not so much they who are important as the way in which they are organized and lit by Harper. A woman helping her child practice the piano is not a particularly sacred moment, but as in a Vermeer painting, the way the composition and lighting influence the content suggests that perhaps it is.This collection of photographs presented in Harper’s third monograph makes use of what is right in front of the artist, what is here, a place that many of us came to contemplate especially during the pandemic. Beauty, goodness and truth can reveal themselves in daily life, as in the Dutch paintings of everyday domestic scenes that are somehow lit up with mysterious import. Harper shows how our unexamined or even seemingly dull surroundings can sometimes be illuminating.

Photographer Jessica Todd Harper uses portraiture to explore the subtle tensions within daily family interactions and the complexity of human relationships. Her work is grounded in art historical tradition, but with a psychological undercurrent that marks its modernity. A silver medalist in the Prix de la Photographie in Paris (2014), she was an Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition prizewinner (2016) and selected that same year for the Taylor Wessing Portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Her work will be significantly represented in Kinship, opening at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in late 2022, and running until 2024. Harper has published two prize-winning books of photography, Interior Exposure(2008) and The Home Stage (2014) (both Damiani Editore).

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@Jessica Todd Harper, Abby in the Dining Room, 2017

One of the most satisfying of human experiences is to imagine that our surroundings mean more than what they appear to at first glance, that this world points to something transcendent. And in my imagery I am trying to do just that.  Like seventeenth century Dutch painters who made otherwise ordinary interior scenes appear charged with meaning, I look for the worth in everyday moments.  The characters in my imagery are the people around me- my friends, myself, family- but it is not so much they who are important as the way in which they are organized and lit. A woman helping her child practice the piano is not a particularly sacred moment but as in a Vermeer painting, the way the composition and lighting influence the content suggests that perhaps it is.
 
Most of the time everyday scenes don’t mean anything to us- in fact, it is a modern truism that we seek to be distracted from them. We scroll through our phones rather than be alone with our thoughts, our selves or even our families. This collection of photographs makes use of what is right in front of me, what is here, a place that many of us came to contemplate especially during the pandemic.  Beauty, goodness and truth can reveal themselves in daily life, much like in Kant’s notion of the Sublime or simply in the Dutch paintings of everyday domestic scenes that are somehow lit up with purport. Our unexamined or even boring surroundings can sometimes be illuminating. – Jessica Todd Harper
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©Jessica Todd Harper, Becky with June, 2020

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Bedtime Story, 2020

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Cousins (books) 2020

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Lego Treehouse, 2020

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Marshall with Christopher and Milo, 2017

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Becky, Mom and June (Birds) 2021

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Catherine with Georgia, 2019

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Catherine with Mom (Dead Bird) 2019

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Christmas Centerpiece, 2020

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Easter Monday, 2017

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Mark and Katy’s Kitchen, 2019

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait wiht Nickolas (piano) 2017

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Evelyn at the Birthday Party, 2017

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Playdate 2017

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait with Catherine (Little Women) 2019

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Lord of the Rings, 2018

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Marshall (windowsill) 2019

MarshallAtTheBirthdayParty2022

©Jessica Todd Harper, Marshall at the Birthday Party, 2022

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait with Nicholas, 2021

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©Jessica Todd Harper, Self Portrait with Marshall (snow) 2021

 

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