by marissa bea

The history of photography is not a long one, but for the short time that it has been with us, photos have changed the face of humans forever. From 19th century explorers, to early portraiture, to modern high fashion, photographs have become a part of our lives, and have created some of the fastest growing art stars in the world today. Lucky for our generation there has arrived a new breed of photographer, and it comes in the ever-changing shape of self-portraiture by Haley Jane Samuelson.

Artist: the Muslims
Song: Beside Myself

Constructed, staged, and carefully planned, where does the photography end and the painterly begin? Modern psychology mixed with intricate symbolism make her a hard lady to pin down. There is a Vermeer-like quality to each photo, slightly distorted by a touch of surrealism that comes from the inner battle between her and herself. As stated in the exhibition press release, in this series Samuelson “invites the viewer to reflect on their own private relationships with their external and internal worlds.” Through her own struggle with life’s choices she examines the battle within us all.

As the subject of her own work, she must place herself on that threshold of being both character and artist. The intimate moments that are captured fondly convey a sense of optimism and of fear. The female is innocent, but by no means passive. Samuelson retains the image of a sexual being while giving the characters a strong sense of sublime thoughtfulness. She graciously sets forth an ideal of a woman who can make her own decisions, control her own destiny, and yet who still has doubts, something that so many can relate to. Though the work appears very personal, her greater vision is of humanity, and how questions about the unknown must always be woven into the everyday.

The show is absolutely phenomenal; 16 pieces that complement each other, sometimes blatantly, sometimes discreetly. Considerably darker than some of her past work, it shows a growth of talent, age, mind, body and soul. Yet, with the darkness comes a burst of inner light, and a feeling that through her process she might have actually found an answer to some of the questions she had been asking herself. Now we must, in turn,  answer them for ourselves.


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