Artist: Katy Grannan
Title: Middleton, WI
Medium: Pigment print
Size: 90 x 72 cm
Misc: Signed, titled, numbered
Katy Grannan's striking portraits examine the desire of her subjects to offer themselves up to the camera lens. As critic Jan Avgikos describes in the essay that accompanies the work, "(Grannan's) subjects perform not simply for the artist and for the camera -they play equally to a much larger cultural arena as they strive to fulfill stereotypical expectations about beauty, virility, desirability, and success. Do we unwittingly reveal as much about ourselves as Grannan's subjects do about themselves? ... Her knack is that she manages to catch everybody (them and us) in the act of gearing up to be themselves."
Throughout Model American, the influence of portraiture, from classical painting to fashion advertising, can be sensed in the poses and gazes her model adopt. From escapism to self-discovery and catharsis, the motivations for posing -the projection of an idealized self into the lens of a stranger - are varied, yet the resulting images consistently reflect the intensity of the relationship between artist and model. Each image resonates with the tension of a first encounter.
In three of Grannan's five series, she photographs her models in their own surroundings or her own home, paying meticulous attention to the elements of each domestic setting: wood paneling, patterned wallpaper, and other mundane but often telling details. The subjects choose to remain clothed, to model nude, or to pause somewhere in between, working with Grannan to arrive at the pose. In Grannan's most recent series , "Sugar Camp Road" and "Mystic Lake," she moves the exercise outdoors, using municipal parks and their surrounding areas as the backdrop. Even though the parklands and roadsides that serve as her set bring the private encounters of her earlier series into the public landscape, she maintains a delicate - yet increasingly charged - sense of intimacy.