Artist's Statement and Biography

The photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said it is an illusion that photographs are made with the camera. A photograph, he said, is created through a “joint operation of the brain, the eye, and the heart.”

Painters and photographers have always tried to deal with how a three-dimensional situation gets represented on a two-dimensional surface. I am influenced by the painters Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh, who used unusual angles of vision and bold color to structure how they represented reality. Cézanne said we have two eyes, that each see differently, so we can see things from more than one point of view at once. We can see things from above, or from the front, or from the side, at the same time.

The world is movement. Photography freezes moments in time, isolates them from an everchanging present. A picture of great energy can result. I am interested in photographing the world from different perspectives. My compositional sense is rooted in spatial terms. When I shoot, I physically place my body before the scene or object very deliberately. By standing in a certain way, lying down, shooting from above, or shooting from below, I ground the viewer in my image spatially. The viewer is physically oriented towards the image from my perspective. I put the viewer “in” the image, dwelling within it, not seeing it from afar. My goal is to bring the viewer so close, that they enter the frame. Such an orientation means I may cause you to see something in a way you’ve never seen it before, by throwing you off balance. If a scene made my heart race, stopped me in my tracks, I hope your heart will race, you will be stopped in your tracks. This means that we share space, that we are communicating.

I care about the world, about nature, about people. I want you to care as well. Ansel Adams thought mood and emotion were essential to the human relationship to wildness. He talked about “intangible” qualities of nature. He wanted people to have a complex response to nature. Adams said photography has a unique ability to creatively express profound spiritual sentiments. He thought beauty was indistinguishable from truth, and from the good.

I like to tell the truth with my images. I want my photographs to express transparency, openness, forthrightness, clarity of vision, honesty, directness, optimism, and grandeur. I wish for an unadorned depiction of reality, celebrating reality for what it is—hugely simple and complex at the same time. Some photographers manipulate their images beyond recognition, and I think confuse or confound viewers who seek a veritable depiction of reality, which is what photography as an art form initially promised to do: to accurately reflect the world.  

Saying this does not mean that creativity and imagination take a back seat to the act of representation. They do not. I am motivated to create art because I am shocked by what I see and feel in the world. Shocked by what I witness. We see around us every imaginable articulation of organic and inorganic patterns, shapes, rhythms, lines, shadows and reflections of light. Photography in Greek means, literally, writing with light, an inscription. When I have my camera around my neck, I feel as if I am present to record the world, to let the world inscribe itself in me, however it at that unique moment chooses to present itself to me. In order to do this, again to invoke Cartier-Bresson, I must simultaneously engage my brain, my eye, and my heart—instantaneously. I must be at the ready, always ready, to capture a unique moment, as it flashes up before me. I must be attentive. I must be very, very attentive. The thing about photography, is that it can show you things that your eye itself cannot see. You may miss what happened. Again, as a moment flashes up, it is seized in time and space. Then you can see it. If I can capture that moment, I can show the world what happened, like a testimonial. I can say “Look. Look here. This happened. This exists.” Making public what I felt, thought, and saw is a way for me to make a connection with other humans, and to make them collaborators in the act of witness. I want to make a connection with my viewers. Through connection, we become more humane. If we become more humane, we can become more responsible. We owe the world, and each other, the ability to care. Photography is a democratic art form for a democratic spirit. I aim to convey these values through my art.

 

Jeneen began photographing with a Pentax K-1000 in the late 1980s, and remained a film photographer until 2009, when a trip to the Buddhist region of Kashmir in India left her dozens of film canisters ruined in a low-quality airport scanner. She has been a member of the Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society and the Cleveland Photographic Society since 2006. She exhibits her work and has won awards at juried fine arts festivals across the state of Ohio, in solo and group shows, in galleries, and online. She is represented by Heights Arts Gallery in Cleveland Heights, and by Something Different Gallery in Ohio City. Her work has been exhibited at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, Shaker Heights Public Library, The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, Avon Lake Public Library, Loganberry Books, and with Greyt Culture at Intro. Jeneen has done philanthropic work with America SCORES, an urban youth development program, 85% of whose students live below the poverty line. She won first place and honorable mention in the landscape category in the 2021 Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society annual contest. She is featured in the Fall Show at The Nicholson B. White Gallery of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, running from September 7-November 13, 2022.

Fine Art Festival 2022 schedule

April 30-May 1  Ohio Designer Craftsmen Clearance Sale, Ohio Expo Center, Columbus

May 14-15  Delaware Arts Festival, Delaware

June 11-12  Art by the Falls, Chagrin Falls

June 18-19  Worthington Arts Festival, Worthington

June 24-26  Crosby Festival of the Arts, Toledo Botanical Garden

July 23-24  Akron Art Expo, Hardesty Park, Akron

August 6  Lakewood Arts Festival, Lakewood

August 7  Chardon Arts Festival, Chardon

August 27-28  Hudson Art on the Green, Hudson

September 17-18  Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival, Cleveland

October 6-9 Ohio Mart, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, Akron