Jennifer Thoreson, Photographer


Jennifer B. Thoreson is a photographer, teacher, lecturer, and mother of two boys who lives and works in Albuquerque, NM. She holds an MFA from the University of New Mexico. Her work is heavily metaphorical, and delves into the nuances of human relationships, human fragility, and the ephemeral, temporary nature of human life. Through her exploration of questions surrounding faith and religious practices, she critically conceptualizes different themes to produce images rich in allegory, engaging with her viewers as they question and explore the themes for themselves. The complexity of her work is rooted in her practice. She carefully orchestrates each image by manipulating symbolic materials, constructing site specific installations and sculptures, and meticulously staging every scene to imbue each element, from the smallest to the largest, with meaning and significance. The elements and spaces she fabricates and captures in her images play as important a role in her art as the finished photographs themselves.

Jennifer’s work has gained an international audience through inclusion in museum and gallery exhibitions, spanning the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Russia, Australia, France, Switzerland, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom. Her work is held in museum collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Musee de l'Elysee, Switzerland; and has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Houston Center for Photography (solo), the Blue Sky Gallery (solo), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL (group). In addition, her work has been published worldwide, in well-known publications, including Black and White Magazine, Diffusion Magazine, and Installation Magazine. In 2011, a monograph of her work, entitled Medic, was published. Awards include Photo Star Award (Kaunas, Lithuania); International Center of Photography (ICP) Leadership Medallion; Photolucida Book Award; Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Franks Memorial Grant.

Photograph by Mandarine Montgomery

Jennifer B. Thoreson creates pieces seemingly suspended in time – rife with emotion and the human condition, but paused. Her photographs appear to capture single moments of stillness within scenes otherwise fraught with tension, emotion, and vulnerability.

Through her work, Thoreson provides the audience with a glance into relatable, ordinary lives that have been imbued with unrecognizable, often otherworldly, abstractions. In the captured pause, she allows the viewer to place themselves within the scene, and to wonder if these abstractions might similarly represent their own pain, worry, brokenness, grief, longing, and hope.

She creates illustrations of the emotional, spiritual, interpersonal, and physical struggles and joys we experience over the course of our lives, showing us how these internal emotional outpourings, invisible to the human eye, might look if they were to physically manifest in the world.

Creating as much through her long physical process of sculpting and composing as through her meticulous final photographic capture, Thoreson sees her images as being “representations of quiet, ultra-still, delicate moments of raw humanness; the phase just after a laboring, aching fall and at the point when renewal inevitably begins.”

Her photographs are primarily composed of a palette of muted, neutral tones in which she includes careful selections of dark, saturated hues. She photographs her scenes using gentle washes of natural light. Her use of lighting points to the persistent hope brought by a new day, even in the darkest situations.

She frames her images into balanced, symmetrical, one-point perspective views, forcing the audience to confront the scene directly. In spaces that seem starkly familiar, she introduces the unknown through the relationships of the bodies to one another, the use of sculptural elements to exaggerate limbs and figures, and the creation of sculpted objects that seem to form living elements within the tableaus.

The scenes she composes bear similarities to theatrical sets and give the audience a glimpse into ongoing stories. Each piece of the composition is carefully selected and arranged, and is necessary to understand the narrative.

Each fabricated object validates and enriches an aspect of the stories or characters shown. Finally, each finished photograph invites the audience to examine the complexities of the figures portrayed through the lens of their own relationships, experiences, and perceptions.

She explains that “the sculptures, found objects, and installations are the heart of [her] process, and allow [her] work a voice and identity.” These carefully created sculptures and selected objects mark Thoreson’s work, and set a stage for the audience to question and examine the hidden realities of their own lives and relationships.

--Rebekah Bellum