The playfully artful and chaotic nature present in the photographs of Julie Blackmon (American, b. 1966) illustrates the everyday people and places that have shaped the artist’s life. These are the familiar and ordinary scenes of Blackmon’s daily routine in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, which she describes as “the generic American town” in the middle of the United States. Her scenes are often centered around children in backyards, garages and neighborhoods where the absence of adults alludes to a looming potential for danger. Her photographs, otherwise innocuous domestic tableaux, are woven with fantasy and subtle satire that reflect a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life in suburbia.
Blackmon carefully sets her scenes, and like film and theater directors, she is in pursuit of unscripted moments that provoke, disturb, and challenge the viewer. Some of the images reference paintings by Dutch masters, French impressionists, and Modernists such as Edward Hopper and Balthus, but they are updated with a satirical, penetrating eye and Blackmon’s belief that artful fiction can capture the truth more memorably than the truth itself.
“I deeply admire the photojournalism of Robert Frank, Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand, but I am not practicing journalism, and I do not use my camera as those photographers did. I think of myself as a visual artist working in the medium of photography, and my assignment is to chart the fever dreams of American life.”