Chicago Project V – Jessica Tampas

The Chicago Project V, currently on view at CEG, features one very large photograph by Jessica Tampas from her body of work, Unbroken (For scale, see the image below of Jessica standing next to the 80 x 60″ print on the wall).

In her statement about the project, Jessica explains, “A year ago when I began this project, I purchased a number of dolls made between 1902 and 1950, mass-produced, life size (20” long), made of ‘composite,’ a material that pre-dates plastic. Some had human hair, others synthetic; some of their faces were embellished with fine details like painted–on eyelashes, others not. Many had limbs missing and stained clothing.  Frankly, I’m not so concerned with what sort of owners they had, or what specific history they suffered before they entered my studio.  That said, I respect that history, and never alter the dolls in any way.  I simply photograph them as though they were part of a typological study.  Today, I own more than a hundred, each one of them for me an object lesson in what it means to be both fragile, and a survivor-and ultimately, human.

I center my subjects in a close-cropped field, and let their gaze confront the viewer.  I hang the resultant images, which I print large (in ranges from 24×30 inches to 60×80 inches) at eye height.  I like that these toys become an all encompassing, visually engulfing experience.  You can choose to engage with their gaze: but you can also choose to look away and stare at their imperfections-for instance, the incredibly deep cracks that run (almost like fissures in parched desert earth) through parts of their bodies.”

Images from Unbroken © Jessica Tampas
Images from Unbroken series © Jessica Tampas

The Chicago Project V: Selections from Our Online Gallery
July 12 – August 31, 2013