Aperture Announces 2007 Portfolio Prize Winner: JESSAMYN LOVELL

From the Aperture website:

“2007 Aperture Portfolio Prize Winner Announced
More than eight hundred artists from across the United States and around the world submitted their work to the first Aperture Portfolio Prize competition. Out of this vast array, the judges awarded the top prize to San Francisco-area photographer Jessamyn Lovell for her project Catastrophe, Crisis, and Other Family Traditions. In addition, four runners-up were selected: Brooklyn-based Ian Baguskas, Cynthia Greig of Detroit, New York-based Israeli artist Shai Kremer, and Tomoyuki Sakaguchi of Tokyo. Aperture is pleased to showcase each artist’s portfolio here (below):

Aperture Portfolio Prize Winner: Jessamyn Lovell

Runner-up: ian Baguskas

Runner-up: Cynthia Greig

Runner-up: Shai Kremer

Runner-up: Tomoyuki Sakaguchi

Click here for information on the 2008 Portfolio Prize
2007 Portfolio Prize Winner:

Jessamyn Lovell—
Catastrophe, Crisis, and Other
Family Traditions

Editorial Statement
Catastrophe, Crisis, and Other Family Traditions is an ongoing project that photographer Jessamyn Lovell has been working on for the past ten years. Lovell describes the work as a “journal that includes the stories and the erratic, transformative struggles my family has dealt with . . . a personal documentation of an American family struggling with class, religion, and disability.”

The main characters include her mother, Kathy Lovell, who suffers from diabetes, a debilitating spinal injury and resulting paralysis; her adopted brother Ariel (A.J.) who suffered severe burns in an accident when he was nine years old; and her two sisters, Alison and Klare. Lovell also turns the camera on herself—witness as well as participant in the story. Her view of her family is unsparing, yet empathetic, a powerful dichotomy that drives the work. This is a recurring conflict in the series, and exemplified in the series’ introductory photograph. In this image, Lovell’s wheelchair-bound mother, shotgun in hand, challenges the viewer—and perhaps Lovell herself—to come any closer, a dual portrayal of strength and vulnerability.

The series’ action is proscribed to the environs of the family farm, replete with goats, ducks, dogs, and cats sharing the fate of the family, and the events that mark time are injections of insulin, preparations of meals and barbeques, shopping trips to Wal-Mart. As told by the young photographer, her family’s story is an ongoing battle for survival, but also a battle to remain connected, caring, and yet not totally consumed by the travails of daily life in the Lovell family. That struggle is palpable, in both the images and the diaries, in which Lovell recalls that “she is part of this family no matter how hard I study or what kind of photographs I take, or what kind of apartment I go home to. I am still somehow chained . . . it feels like I have never left.”

The larger series from which the gallery presented here is drawn combines diaries, diagrams of the family homes, and a multi-faceted portrait of the family, their environment, and the difficulties they have faced together. She occasionally collages her images, which are created using a variety of formats, from a fairly formal use of 35 mm and medium formats to the rough and ready feel of Polaroids and a Holga camera. Her multi-textured, personal approach offers an open-ended read of the work as well as of the subjects and their stories, evoking Jim Goldberg and Richard Billingham in both tone and texture. The story remains uniquely Lovell’s however and the work she has created as a means to grapple with it and to convey it to the outside world is rich, complex, and deeply effecting. —LAM

Artist’s Bio
Jessamyn Lovell graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA in photographic illustration in 1999. She received her MFA in photography from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 2001. In 2003, she was an artist-in-residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, such as the CaDre Grant, San Francisco, and the American Society of Media Photographers Award, Rochester, New York. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including a solo exhibition at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California, and group shows at Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco; LoBot Gallery, Oakland, California; and Robert B. Menschel Photo Gallery, Syracuse, New York. She currently lives in Oakland and teaches full-time at Diablo Valley College. More of her work can be viewed at http://jessamynlovell.com

2007 Runner-up Editorial Statements:

Ian Baguskas- SANSARAM

Cynthia Grieg – REPRESENTATIONS

Shai Kremer – POISONED LANDSCAPE

The following Aperture staff took part in judging the 2007 competition:

Lesley A. Martin, Publisher, Books
Diana Edkins, Director of Exhibitions & Limited-Edition Photographs
Michael Famighetti, Editor, Books, & Managing Editor, Aperture magazine
Susan Ciccotti, Managing Editor, Books
Joanna Lehan, Associate Editor
Yass Etemadi, Editorial Assistant
Sebastian Mejia, Work Scholar
Kate Phillips, Work Scholar
Christina Wiles, Work Scholar
Carmen Winant, Work Scholar”

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