rachel jump | origins
Rachel Jump’s project, Origins, is a present-day articulation of poignant moments from her family’s past, empathetically reexamining memories that shaped her sense of identity. Jump embraces the fragility and unreliability of memory, harnessing it to reenact what has passed, not with a literal fidelity, but with a focus on emotional resonance with the past. The deliberate nature of photographing these moments unpacks their layers of significance on her family’s evolution. A sense of wonder and tender honesty permeate these images. We float among these privy vignettes, developing a dimensional sense of the familial relationships they narrate. - Editor
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What brought you to photography?
Becoming an artist or a photographer was something I never really considered as a young person. I thought I was going to pursue a career in psychology. However, after taking a black and white darkroom class in high school, I felt that I could more thoroughly examine the complexities of the human condition through creating photographic imagery. I found the language of photography to be far more expansive and revealing than any other creative or academic medium.
Who are your photographic influences?
My teacher, David Prifti, was hugely influential to my path as a photographer. He was not only a prolific wet-collodion photographer but also a profoundly empathetic individual. I was struck by the confrontational, yet tender, nature of his imagery, and I wanted to evoke a similar sense of intimacy in my photographs and personal life. I've always cherished Emmet Gowin's photographs of his family, and, most notably, his wife, Edith. She always appears as this gravitational force— her presence is so powerful and all-encompassing. You could feel his love for her permeate through the surface of every photograph. "Natural Histories" by Barbara Bosworth continues to be very illuminating for my large format work. I admire her ability to compare her parents and their affection for nature to celestial bodies. Mickalene Thomas' "Muse" is a beautiful testament to the women in her life— the unwavering affection she sheds upon her loved ones is incredibly humbling.
Tell us about the steps and processes that go into making your photographs.
My process is very intuitive— I tend to place more emphasis on singular images over a larger body of work. Most recently, I have been photographing members of my family, and I keenly observe certain moments and gestures that could translate into a potential image. I use a large format camera, so the process of creating an image is slow and methodical. I believe working in this manner encourages a more collaborative effort between myself and my subject.
What does being a photographer bring to your life?
The most important aspect of life as a photographer is being a part of a larger creative community, one which I feel very privileged to be a part of. I feel incredibly inspired by the work of my peers, and it is important to support their careers in any way that I can. I've worked as a communications coordinator at Filter Photo and Mana Contemporary Chicago, and it was my ambition to promote and elevate the careers of artists living in the Chicago area. I feel lucky to be constantly surrounded by ambitious people who see the world through a critical lens, and I enjoy having the opportunity to engage with them on a regular basis.
What is this project about?
"Origins" is a recollection of my personal history, where I use the camera to recreate my most potent memories experienced with my family. They reflect a present interpretation of preceding events— a fiction conjured from my truth. My photographs submit to the malleable nature of memory and describe how personal relationships are impacted by suppressed familial tragedies. Instead of idealizing and concealing my family history, I attempt to highlight the disparity and emotional distance we previously endured. The resulting narrative marks an attempt to demonstrate my longing for familial intimacy and reconciliation. This is a collaboration amongst loved ones: a willingness to empathize with one another, share our personal experiences, renegotiate interpersonal strife, and outwardly demonstrate our underlying affection for one another.
What from your biography influenced this project?
For most of my childhood, my family’s life was scattered over countless households. My dad had a career in advertising, where his role was constantly shifting, so we lived in a different city every year for the first ten years of my life. My brief memories of these places composed a very fragmented picture of my childhood. As I grew older, I began to question how one's sense of identity is affected by displacement, and how memories manifest within domestic environments. These ideas have been essential to the development of my creative practice, and I look forward to seeing how these perceptions will change my work over time.