Welcome to our August Mind of the Artist featuring Jane Mann. Jane's international travels inspired her journey of photography through several different techniques and mediums. Her insight into her art and expression are #CHAWsome and we can't wait for you to read more!
I was born in Canton, Ohio, to a family who used the camera to document family life and travels. However, my dad also had beautiful black and white images of clouds, rivers, forests. When I was 10, I took a picture of him sitting on a split rail fence under a birch tree. The owner of the camera shop who developed it suggested an enlargement. As a 10 year old, I took it as glowing praise for my work rather than a sales pitch. But this bit of encouragement meant that I’ve been carrying a camera ever since.
When I got to college, I knew I wanted to see more of the world than northeastern Ohio. Studies in French and work with an archeological dig took me to England, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Italy and France. Graduate school in British Columbia and time spent in the Northwest and Hawaii further broadened my perspective.
Although I have taken courses in photography and Photoshop both in the DC area and in Honolulu, I’m essentially self-taught. I think photographers are keen observers and I while I was working and raising a family, I spent my free time reading, going to galleries, and generally appreciating all the arts. When we moved to northern Virginia, the artistic pace picked up due to the proximity of the wonderful East Coast art scene and a son who loved art above all else. After visiting the Torpedo Factory for the first time, I decided I too could make art, and so I did.
Having made that decision, better equipment, including a 300mm lens, completely changed my perspective. From landscapes and wider angle scenes, I began to focus on the details of my subjects: one door in a deteriorating wall, the chimney of a restored Acadian cabin, the view through a single arch. I loved these almost abstract architectural images for their simplicity as well as their attention to the fabric of the scene.
My perspective changed again with the development of digital image equipment and manipulation software. Now I could take any image either from film or from the digital camera and use Photoshop to enhance or alter it. Photographs could appear to be silk screen prints or watercolors. They no longer had to realistically represent the image.
The Mistress’s Baths
The second advancement in my fine art photography was the archival printer. Instead of taking color film to a photo lab and leaving the development and, therefore, the finished product up to the technician, I could control them myself. By using archival inks, papers, and matting materials, the color photograph’s life would extend to 100 years or more.
Through membership in local art organizations like CHAW, I became interested in printmaking, collage, and mixed media. I found I could also use Photoshop to create more complex images – photomontages - which would exhibit some of the characteristics of these other media. This visual complexity in turn generated more complex thought. By using layers of photographic images, I could make statements about issues that were important to me. A series called “Busted” explored the environmental problem of global warming. The outlines of desert flora superimposed on images of rusted metal suggested a world where plants were merely dried skeletons. Would our human habitation of the earth go from boom to bust?
My latest work came from a trip through Spain, particularly Andalusia, which reportedly had a Golden Age of tolerance under the Moors. I began layering photos from the same area of the world but of different religions, socio-economic statuses, or historical periods, overlaying then applying a Photoshop filter to them. The prints serve as a reminder that cultures, man-made constructions, and political regimes are never permanent. They are also a visual commentary on my conviction that by fostering the peaceful coexistence of different religions, cultural traditions, and artistic expression the world would be a more interesting, vibrant, and humane place.