The States Project: New Hampshire: Karen Jyrzyk
I first saw Karen Jerzyk’s work on the cover of Artscope magazine and it reminded me of a Sandy Skogland photograph, specifically, Revenge Of The Goldfish, (1981, color photograph; approx. image area 27 1/2″ X 35″) which features ceramic goldfish handmade by the artist, with live models on a painted set. I was immediately drawn to Karen’s use of color and staging in her work and was surprised when I found out she has a studio in Manchester, NH. She is known for her amazing website https://www.karenjerzykphoto.com/ .
Karen Jerzyk is a self-taught photographer from the Greater Boston area. After graduating with a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire in 2003, her parents gifted her a digital camera to photograph bands. She photographed thousands of bands, concentrating on both live and promotional photos (and occasionally album covers). In 2009 she started shooting portraits of people, and ultimately decided to concentrate her focus on photographing models. In 2011, Jerzyk’s father passed away unexpectedly. Her world during and after this event contributed to what is seen in her portfolio today. She had feelings and experiences that she could never build into words or talk to people about. Jerzyk felt completely alone. She realized she had two choices: drown in her own darkness and succumb to depression or push on and fully submerge herself in telling an ongoing story of her internal struggles. She strives to produce photos that tell a story- that connect with the viewer on a personal level. Jerzyk enjoys finding locations that were abandoned before any sort of technological age, typically locations with relics left in them from 1980 and earlier (the older, the better she says). A feeling of “future-past”. She strives to present her photos as “readable images”. There is no right answer to the ultimate meaning of any one of Jerzyk’s photos, as each viewer can read the scene differently. Her trademark style of shooting elaborate scenes in abandoned buildings (when she finds a location, she quite literally spends hours cleaning up and restoring it to what it may have looked like, paying attention to the smallest details such as placement of items in the room) eventually got her arrested in August 2014. She like to describe the “incident” as the best thing to ever happen to her in her career after national news outlets picked up the story. She currently travels the US, photographing people for various projects.
There is a fine line between every form of art- I continuously try to erase those lines. I strive to make my work cinematic, often adding elements of painting, sculpture, costume design, set construction and practical effects to my work. Inspired tremendously by cinema, the majority of my images are constructed top appear as if they are a still from a movie, leaving the viewer to wonder what happened in that particular world before the capture, during, and after.
I strive to produce work rich with surrealism and a dreamlike quality that hopefully invokes strong emotions in the viewer. – Karen Jerzyk
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