Fine Art Photography Daily

Jennifer Ray

looking at work by Review Santa Fe participants

I had the pleasure of standing next to Jennifer Ray at the three hour portfolio walk at Review Santa Fe. Her series, Go Deep Into The Woods, garnered lots of attention from attendees, who immediately became engaged in the work once they discovered that the images weren’t just about nature, at least nature in the botanical sense.

Jennifer is an MFA candidate at Columbia College Chicago and has already garnered a long list of exhibitions and awards. Images from Go Deep Into the Woods were recently included in a show at the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana Bloomington.

“Using information gleaned from online communities, I locate and photograph places in public parks where men meet to have sex. The traces of these sexual encounters reveal dual needs for connection and anonymity and a tension between public and private. Though my photographs focus on one community, the images metaphorically suggest the complicated interplay between taboo, secrecy, tenderness, voyeurism, and fantasy common to the broad spectrum of human sexuality.

At the intersection of wilderness and cultivation, these parks bring to mind both the primal quality of sexual desire and the mythologized ideal of Edenic nature. I refute simplified ideas of perfect nature, instead depicting it as complicit in the conflict between chaos and order, pleasure and morality, and instinct and rationality. Through this framework, I highlight the discrepancies between the ideal and the real.”

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