Fine Art Photography Daily

Joy Christiansen Erb: Portrait of a Mother

exploring work focusing on family this week….

01_Blackberry Stain_Joy Christiansen ErbJoy Christiansen Erb captures images that are sensory reminders of the details of child bearing and rearing–the stains and marks of momentary states of being. The fragrance of new life and blood and milk and tears mixed with the sensual sense of skin and the body all combine into the domestic opera of daily life, the life behind the front door that is intimate, unseen, and often wordless. Joy has created a new project, Portrait of a Mother,  beautifully and quietly celebrating memories that perhaps only she would have remembered if the camera had not been in attendance.

Joy is a contemporary photographer and artist whose creative research explores themes such as identity, family and motherhood. Her most recent body of work titled Portrait of a Mother is an autobiographical journey examining the lives of her family and her domestic space.

Joy’s work was recently recognized with the juror’s choice award for the exhibition IDentity at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO. Her work has gained recognition through regional and national exhibitions including venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee and The Women’s Museum in Dallas. Joy has lectured about her work nationally, most recently presenting her work at the Midwest Society for Photographic Education conference in Lincoln, NE. In April of 2014 she will be participating in an artist residency program in Paducah, KY.

She currently resides in Youngstown, Ohio, where she is an Associate Professor of Photography at Youngstown State University. She received her B.F.A. from Miami University, Oxford, OH and her M.F.A. from Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX.10_Rosebud_Joy Christiansen Erb


Portrait of a Mother consists of photographic images that explore the subject of motherhood and family, both from a personal and universal perspective. Through this series, I record the private moments within the lives of my family and our domestic space. The resulting images artistically document the growth cycles of my children, the successes and failures of motherhood, and focus on the body through sickness and healing. Collectively the images become evidence. They represent the wounds, marks and scars that reflect the past as well as the present.

The project initially began due to an innate desire to document and record the events that were unfolding within my life following the birth of my first child Emmet. Shortly after his birth he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and underwent surgery.

02_Emmet Crying_Joy Christiansen Erb

The project has evolved from those initial images, also recording the life of my daughter Elinor and is inspired by curiosity, exploration and play. Through these photographs, my family narrative is revealed. The quiet moments documented within each photograph are familiar. They can be sweet, but also curious, seductive and dangerous at the same time.

Portrait of a Mother becomes an autobiographical journey of the intimate moments of my family but also reflect on the subject of motherhood from a universal perspective.
03_Postpartum Hairloss_Joy Christiansen Erb
04_Ceiling Leak_Joy Christiansen Erb
05_Timeout_Joy Christiansen Erb
06_Elinor_Joy Christiansen Erb
07_Days after csection_Joy Christiansen Erb
08_Emmets Painting_Joy Christiansen Erb
09_Urine Stain_Joy Christiansen Erb

11_Emmet_Joy Christiansen Erb
12_Hiding_Joy Christiansen Erb
13_Elinors Nail Clippings_Joy Christiansen Erb
14_Trains_Joy Christiansen Erb
15_Mother and Child_Joy Christiansen Erb

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