Our everyday people, actions, and environments are amongst the various nuances that senior Jessie Jacobson ’16 is exploring in her thought-provoking studio art thesis. Jacobson will be producing a photography series analyzing the relationship between suburban American architecture, light, and nostalgia.
Jacobson states, “There’s this mundane beauty present in spaces that we walk by every day, or things that become so familiar that we don’t evaluate them on an aesthetic level; for my thesis, I’m revisiting these spaces from childhood and photographing them during golden hour in an attempt to capture a nostalgic narrative.”
Jacobson is connecting the viewer and mentally taking him/her back to a memory that could be hiding deep within the crazy realm of their brain. Also writing a psychology thesis on nostalgia, Jacobson is able to connect her two studies, emphasizing her liberal arts education.
Nostalgia, a particularly interesting concept, was defined by the artist as “when you remember certain memories and experience this immense pleasure followed by pain and longing. But in a good way! The song ‘December, 1963’ or anything off of Arcade Fire’s, ‘Funeral’ does it for me.”
The compelling concept immediately engages the audience into a particular mindset. Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Nostalgia connects two people through the commonality of some memory, some piece from the past, allowing one to feel closer and happier when sharing nostalgic memories. Nostalgia does have its painful side — it’s a bittersweet emotion — but the net effect is to make life seem more meaningful and death less frightening.
When people speak wistfully of the past, they typically become more optimistic and inspired about the future. It produces a sense of longing towards something you can never return to – whether that is a specific place, time, or person. Often these memories are evoked by certain music, smells, or images. “I know that golden hour is a particularly nostalgic time of day for me because it’s beautiful and often associated with being outside, which many people have positive memories about. My favorite photographers often shoot during similar times of day,” Jacobson said. “The fact that not everyone finds the same things nostalgic started as a concern, and that’s definitely something I consider when I take photos for this reason; I’m not binding myself to nostalgia as my big scary thesis topic. The work is about the visual images, and especially with a yearlong thesis like this, your work has the ability to change and shift overtime – who knows where it will land by April!”
Jacobson will be capturing these moments of time in the “golden hour,” a particular hour of day right before the sun starts to set: the sun illuminates everything with a warm, golden blanket of light, the shadows are long, and the beauty of the world is heightened. Shooting during golden hour is difficult because the contrast between light and shadow is so extreme.
Jacobson entered the world of visual art prior to Bates, where she spent countless hours with her grandfather developing photographs in the darkroom. Similarly, Jacobson will be creating her art with a 35mm film. “Nothing compares to film! Film itself is nostalgic. It is honest. For me, film truly stops a moment in time and keeps it eternal. With digital images, there’s always this sense of movement – like you know that the photographer could have easily taken another picture just like the one you’re looking at, because digital is so disposable. Film requires patience and meticulous care before taking the photo.”
In the age of camera-equipped smart phones and inexpensive digital cameras, odds are that a lot people have never seen a roll of film or used an analog camera — much less developed film and paper prints in a darkroom. This has been an ongoing issue within the photography world. Using film and film cameras allows artists, such as Jacobson, to concentrate on the image and notion trying to be captured, “whereas with digital it’s easier to get lazy and say, ‘Oh, I’ll just fix that glare in Photoshop.’”
Jacobson’s show is set to comprise April 2016.