Untamed: Jaime Johnson

Upon first glance, Jaime Johnson’s Untamed photographic series recalls Victorian-era portraiture and Audubon-like documentations. With further study, they remind me of the recent TV series, American Horror Story, playing upon antebellum etiquette and contradiction.

Johnson’s tea-toned cyanotypes depict a “wild woman” in nature, but her work holds a residual element of decorum, of poise. In Bone Dress, the skulls and large bones of a cow (presumably) compose what seems a mockery of a ruffled and plumed dress. The woman in it is in complete profile, head slightly tilted up, and it is difficult to tell if this posture is some kind of defiance, or simply a trope of antiquity.

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In other, swampy images, Johnson’s lead character lends more intrigue. For Boa, this calm,composed, gentle hand clasps a hissing snake. The inconsistencies between the figure and her surroundings are subdued, creating a much deeper angst. In her statement Johnson states that this monochrome series “shifts focus from potentially colorful landscapes and figures to patterns, textures, and the relationships of forms.” Investigating the mystery of the swampy grasses, animal bones, and shoulder-less dresses is made more interesting by Johnson’s use of cyanotype on translucent paper, and well worth undertaking.

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“Untamed” will be at the TTU SoA’s SRO Photo Gallery April 13-May 10, 2015

Images (courtesy of the artist) :

Bone Dress (2014) tea-toned cyanotype, 20 x 30 inches

Boa (2014) tea-toned cyanotype, 20 x 30 inches

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