Imagine trying to capture on paper the feeling of a dream, or a distant memory, giving shape to the fleeting images inside your mind. How would you do it? Contemporary artist Susan kae Grant has developed an intriguing method of photographing shadows for this very purpose – the perfect entity to convey the universally prevailing theme of light and dark.
A lens-based artist from Dallas, Susan kae Grant’s mysterious display at The Grace Museum is really drawing in visitors. Using shadows as a metaphor, Grant carefully stages and directs models into posed positions in order to create fabricated narratives that explore dreams, memories, and the unconscious mind. But instead of photographing the subjects themselves, she captures their shadows. The resulting black-and-white images are mesmerizing and poignant as they entice viewers to enter a world of the fantastical, the dream state, and the surreal.
As a master of playing with light and dark, Grant’s work is much more than just a simple showing of silhouettes. Her exhibition, titled Shadowing Grace: Between Light & Dark, envelopes visitors through a blend of large-scale photographs on fabric panels draped from the ceiling, single works on paper, a video projection, as well as a recreation of her art studio.
Grant doesn’t create fanciful photos out of mere artistic whimsy. Each one is a product of significant artistic study and scientific investigation into the nature of memory, dreams, and the unconscious. Her haunting photos are meant to recreate the fragmented layers we often experience in our dreams by exposing the veil between reality and perception.
The artworks selected for The Grace Museum’s exhibition draw on years of research gathered through REM sleep studies conducted by Grant in collaboration with noted sleep researcher, Dr. John Herman. Data collected from the artist’s own REM sleep cycle directly inspired her creation of the pieces on view from her lauded Night Journey series.
Susan kae Grant’s inventive and influential work has been enjoyed by people all over the world since the late 1970s. An educator and early proponent of photographic book arts, she has a long history of presenting lectures, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally in Canada, China, Europe, Australia, British Columbia, Africa, Guatemala, and Japan.
In 2008, Grant was named Cornaro Professor of Visual Arts, Emerita at Texas Woman’s University where she served as head of Photography and Book Arts from 1981 to 2017.
Shadowing Grace: Between Light & Dark is on view in The Grace Main Gallery through Sept. 16. Susan kae Grant will make a special appearance and speak at the museum on Friday, May 12 for an Artist Reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. This evening event is free and open to the public.
Contributed By The Grace Museum