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Katharine T. Jacobs at the Portland Art Museum
July 17, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Katharine T. Jacobs, Fixation: New Work about a New Life
Portland Art Museum Photography Council’s
Brown Bag Lunch Talk Series
Wednesday, July 17, 2019, Noon – 1pm
Portland Art Museum
The Miller Gallery, Mark Building
1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205
503 226 2811
Cost: Free to the public (people are welcome to bring their lunch)
Photographer and fine artist Katharine T. Jacobs will discuss how art making and photography have helped her keep her head above water. After the birth of her daughter, a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and leaving an abusive marriage, her conceptual work has evolved over the past two years. Katharine uses photography as art therapy to communicate her struggles and her humanness. Come and hear the layers of her process and the details of her life.
Earlier this year I participated in an eye study for Multiple Sclerosis research. During a particularly difficult part of the four-hour, tedious testing session, the ophthalmologist complimented me on how efficient I was, stating, , “Wow you are so great at fixating”. This seemingly meaningless compliment had a profound effect on me.
Previously,the term “fixate” had only been used negatively by partners in response to my need for more details. Having spent the last 8 years in an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship, I was often gas lit out of my questions and concerns. “Stop fixating!” on this or that became a common statement in my relationship. I came to believe that I was the problem, that my inquisitive nature and craving for knowledge was and unattractive quality that needed to be stifled. So, I tried to control my urges to pry, and I fixated in silence.
I make large format film portraits that reflect my life experience. Many of my portraits were made in response to my symptoms and struggles living with Multiple Sclerosis. Additionally, images were subconsciously and consciously made throughout the dissolution of my marriage and single motherhood. My portraits are inspired by love and loss, physical and emotional pain, coping with living with a chronic illness and craving intimacy after years of abuse.
My background in Craft influences me to make work with intention. I employ a variety of traditional and alternative photographic techniques to showcase skill while still embracing the element of the handmade. Nearly every element of my practice is derived from concept and enriched with vulnerability. For these reasons my photography and my practice are unique and intimate.
Originally from the rural foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Katharine T. Jacobs began her education at California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, where she learned to shoot with a large format camera and discovered Polaroid type 55 film. In 2007 she moved to Portland, purchased her own 4×5 camera and started photographing friends, family and countless strangers while attending Oregon College of Art and Craft. Her focus in street photography and large format shooting inspired her journey across the United States and the production of American Strangers, her largest body of work to date.
While living in Portland, she co-founded Jailhouse Studios and actively participated in Lyceum, the photography collective.
Katharine now lives and works in Mokelumne Hill, California, and is a graduate student at San Jose State University.