Haley Jane Samuelson
Press Release: An Indecisive Moment
March 8, 2012 – June 16, 2012
31 Howard Street, Floor 2 New York, NY 10013
F: 212.965.0207 firstname.lastname@example.org
“I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.” -Sylvia Plath “One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.” - Virginia Woolf “I like a view, but I like to sit with my back turned to it.” - Gertrude Stein
In her new body of work, Haley Jane Samuelson distinctly shifts from her introspective self-portraits in the interior to portraits of others in sweeping, lush outdoor settings. Scenes are overflowing with magic hour light, rushes of texture and saturated, jewel tone color that take her photographs to a level so rich that the desire is to speak of them on painterly terms. Taking this step into nature's beauty and away from the stylized realities she constructed, elevates the depth of her work. In an image such as Quiet, being what I remember, except for the crisp, dark sound of the leaves being pulled back into the earth, the cascading and effervescent light infuses the scene with a gentleness fresh to her palette. The still quietness is an example of the poignant turnabout when compared to a piece like Yawn Scream that was the anchor of her last body of work. There still remains a tension in the subject, but we are closer to an awakening from the coccoon of self analysis. Furthermore, in these pieces, the work stems from the environment, rather than the environment and end result being dictated by a concept. Thus, Samuelson is challenged to capture a natural dialog happening on all levels and one which she cannot control.
Subjects gesticulate in dramatic, spontaneous ways that Samuelson advised were born out of conversation that unfolded in her journeys to and from locations. Due to this work being taken in a setting 2 hours away from the aritst's and the subjects' homes, time on the road allowed for the development of a period of understanding and sharing which revealed cornucopias of stories and thoughts. Many of these those that one usually holds close to their chest. Therefore, a sense of therapeutic, truthful reveal is conveyed in the work that feels boundless and is unique to one that has been sharing with a new entity who lacks the personal, first hand knowledge of their family, friends, work and usual environments.
Sexuality, anger, love, death, beauty and fear displayed shamelessly and without self-awareness was awakened before her lens as true, raw inner monologues were exposed and a sense of propriety became foreign. In these photographs, it all comes pouring, out all of the time. The freedom in this communion between artist and subject, woman to woman allowed for a physical release of the subject into the world with them reeling from the high of emotional nudity to move and sway as they never would have otherwise. It also brought Samuelson to a place to capture them in uncontemplated, organic ways whose beauty lies in their pureness as both she and her subjects ride the wave down to a place of calmness and simple being. Samuelson could relate to and see pieces of every woman she knows as well as herself within her subjects. This collective unconsciosness is articulated in her composition. She found the moments she was capturing fell into that area of being which is neither past, present nor future, but all that lies between.
Yesterday, I woke up and the sky was full of blues, changing, arching over themselves is an image whose title embodies this sentiment and conveys the moment when you can feel the momentum and gravity of everything beautiful that will begin after the indecisive moment. It is the space between the decision to make the leap and actively stepping off the cliff. In the work of Samuelson, this is represented in the push and pull between the reality of adulthood and the image of it, a need to grow roots and wanderlust, a desire for independence and longing for another and all the other choices we face in the broad and the fine strokes of our lives. As the subject precariously clings to the branch bending to her weight, she hangs in the balance of metamorphosis. The moment she either lets go or decides to climb will be the time of growth towards the next phase, which seemingly is implied, will yield a freedom of self and a cornucopia of options as yet untapped.
Moreover, Samuelson captures her subjects in a manner that makes them seem physically smaller than their vast natural panoramas, yet their booming and blooming characters are not diminished. There is a balance struck in which she lets neither subject nor backdrop dominate. In so doing, she echoes the balance we all seek to find with ourselves and our surroundings. Perhaps, if even only for a moment, she achieves this precious space and suspends it in her work. Although born from what appears to be a struggle or a frolic or a session of self-reflection, Samuelson uses her subjects to give the viewer the sensation of being at the apex of the curve, anticipating the inevitable drop that is to come; and, if dwelled on long enough, the tip of that lurch in your stomach can literally be felt while meditating on her art.
The ability for Samuelson to capture both the sprinting positive momentum and the anxious unknown is a unique gift born from her understanding of human beings and no fear to exercise a frank voice that explores us as the only animals with consciousness that can live both an internal and external life. Anything, everything is on the threshold in her world and could unravel anyway or every way or maybe in no way at all.