Morbidity & Mortality series

Photography by Jeanette May seen at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York - Morbidity & Mortality series
Photography by Jeanette May seen at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York - Morbidity & Mortality seriesPhotography by Jeanette May seen at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York - Morbidity & Mortality seriesPhotography by Jeanette May seen at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York - Morbidity & Mortality series
Jeanette May's photographs for her "Morbidity & Mortality" series is at EFA Open Studios in 323 West 39th Street New York, NY "Morbidity & Mortality" is my light-hearted and fluffy response to the current popular fascination with depictions of crime scenes, murder, and forensics. Contemporary films and forensic-themed television programs such as CSI reveal an obsession with corpses, specifically the artfully composed images of dead bodies. It is an ancient, macabre pastime: staging the dead. Witness catacomb’s geometric stacks of skulls, paintings of operating theatres, and 19th century dioramas of taxidermy animals. While death and Memento Mori are perennial motifs in art, contemporary US culture is awash in carefully arranged and creatively “off’d” stiffs. As an artist examining this trend, I face the challenge of depicting, yet not reproducing, this fetishized violence. In my staged photographs of recently discovered victims, the body is that of a “dead” pet toy: the small furry object lying on the floor, for example, is a dismembered bird’s head. I find a perverse quality in pet toys that resemble real animals–already deceased or clearly marked for death. The resulting images call into question our society’s concern with the macabre. A sense of humor helps.

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Meet the Creator

"Jeanette May is a photo-based artist using a critical, sometimes playful, approach to investigate representation itself. Early training as a painter is evident in her carefully arranged compositions and rich color palette. Ms. May “makes” photographs: constructed, staged, lit, and carefully considered.

Her recent still life project, "Tech Vanitas", embraces the anxiety surrounding technological obsolescence. Ms. May received her MFA in Photography from CalArts and her BFA in Painting from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Her work is exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including New York; Washington, DC; Chicago; Los Angeles; Toronto, Canada; Shanghai, China; Barcelona, Spain; Sandviken, Sweden; and Athens, Greece.

Ms. May is represented in New York state by Klompching Gallery and ClampArt.

Ms. May lives in Brooklyn and works from her studio in the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (EFA) in Manhattan.

More on her work can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/239017130"

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