Jessica Todd Harper
Portraits from Private Spaces
On view: April 3 – May 15, 2006
Jessica Todd Harper has been depicting her family and friends in large-scale color photographs since 2000. The project began in graduate school while Harper was losing her grandmother to the anonymity of Alzheimer’s disease. Her grandmother’s fleeting and occasional moments of comfort with the formally familiar things, rooms and people from her disappearing past raised questions for Harper about memory, the private meanings of things and the interior world of the mind. Harper started to make pictures about the women in her family- herself, her living relatives, as well as incorporating ancestors depicted in photographs and paintings from the past. Self-portraits, family portraits and later, portraits of female friends, have been ways of examining women in domestic environments, often preoccupied with private thoughts. The pictures address a particular part of identity that is linked with the internal world, family, friends, and the home. Long exposures, carefully composed backgrounds and an affinity for natural light are the result of Harper’s admiration of Dutch still life painters and the portrait artists of the Northern Renaissance.Jessica Todd Harper, Becky in the Dining Room, 2005
Harper’s work has been featured in Photo District News, Camera Austria and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Exhibits with catalogs of her work have been produced at the Allentown Art Museum, The Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, Blue Sky Gallery in Portland and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. In 2005 she was a project competition winner at the Santa Fe Center for Photography and one of “PDN’s 30: Our Choice of Emerging Photographers to Watch”. Harper is represented by Cohen Amador Gallery in New York and teaches at Swarthmore College.