Short bio: AllisonJarek (b. 1989, Reno, NV) is an American photographer whose work explores themes such as man’s relationship with nature, female identity, and personal journeys. She received her MFA in Photography from Texas Woman’s University in the spring of 2015 and her BFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2011. Her work has been shown nationally, at venues such as PhotoPlace Gallery, New Orleans Photo Alliance, the University of Central Florida, PhotoNOLA, and Clemson University, and featured in publications such as SHOTS Magazine, The Hand magazine, and South x Southeast Photomagazine. She currently lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia.
Why do you photograph on film? My work is made using a large format camera and 4’’ x 5’’ film. The use of this medium is important to my work for many different reasons. The large format film captures a high level of detail and the tilts and shifts of the camera’s front and rear standards create an extreme selective focus that contribute to the surreal aesthetic within my work. Most importantly, however, the process of photographing with a large format camera and film is conceptually tied to my work. At the core of my photographs lies the belief in man’s inextricable connection to nature. It is important that not only the final product be immersive, but also the photographic experience. The time intensive process of photographing with large format film allows me to spend time within the landscape, which contributes to a better understanding of the subject matter and an opportunity to experience the close relationship with nature that I aim to depict.
What is your work about? This series, entitled Hallowed Ground, explores themes related to transcendentalist philosophy and literature, specifically the innate spirituality and purity within nature. In the essay, Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson emphasized the importance of man’s relationship to the land. He stated that there is a common spirit that resides in and connects all living things, which he called the “Over-Soul.” The examination of this connection would lead to the essential truths of one’s existence. These images were photographed with 4×5 black and white film and painted digitally to illustrate the “Over-Soul” that connects man to the land. This process is also used to emphasize the romantic and idealistic qualities of the landscape to encourage the appreciation and respect of the audience. The resulting images depict surreal, dream-like environments that reflect these themes and question the audience’s perception of reality. Though this work reflects my personal beliefs regarding the importance and the sacred nature of the land, the ultimate purpose of these idealistic depictions is to encourage appreciation and respect for the earth and to provoke the audience to reflect on their own personal relationship with nature.