Jason Ward

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Statement : 

When a graduate professor showed my classmates and I a presentation on portraiture, I decided that I had zero interest in ever making flattering photographs. So, instead of emulating her examples of perfectly lit and heavily airbrushed subjects, I endeavored to make a highly unflattering portrait. I styled my subject in orthodontic headgear, and the ill-fitting clothing of a gawky teenager. I posed her uncomfortably and directed her to smile self-consciously. In post-production, I accentuated her blemishes rather than airbrushing her skin. Rather than being appalled, my instructor saw something in my satirization of fine-art portraiture and encouraged me to run with it.

This series has evolved from that one initial photograph to include a cast of characters, each with a comprehensive backstory extending beyond the frame. I study the inadvertent humor of awkward prom pictures, self-conscious corporate headshots, and cheesy stock photography, looking for visual tools for expressing the absurdities of personal identity. I often reference recognizable personas, to anchor the viewer in the comfort that comes from familiarity. Then I strive to subvert their assumptions through nonsensical juxtapositions delivered in a deadpan style.

We are living through an age of avatar identities, polarized divisions, and paranoid conspiracies. People are rejecting science, and the United States is on the brink of a civil war. While many images in this series are a response to specific current cultural trends, the series as a whole has come to function as an absurdist reaction to the proliferation of the irrational ideas that define our times. In a visual culture bombarding us with stimulus, I find these absurd portraits to be an apt way of discussing the forces flattening images and warping identities.

Sister Margaret
Work Credit: 
Jason Ward
Work Credit: 
Jason Ward

Jason Ward is a Los Angeles-based photographer specializing in creative

portraiture, documentary, and street photography. His work tends to be

characterized by elements of irony and absurdist humor. He holds an MFA in

photography from California Institute of the Arts.

Bosnia & Herzegovina
San Jose
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
United States



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