Poignant. Powerful. Full of life. All these words fit the bill to describe the work of African American photographer Jourdan Christopher. Although born in Detroit and raised in Memphis, his time in New England has been filled with a rollercoaster of experiences that have sharpened his creative eye.
After completing his Bachelors in Rhetorical Studies and Philosophy at Bates College in 2014, he chose to settle in Boston. A subtle theme at the heart of his photography is navigating the feelings of an “outsider” that are coupled with being transient. One of his most popular being his Strangers in Boston series, which depicts candid street scenes and interactions between people in different locations in the city.
The Art Connection is excited to partner with him for DAWN and DUSK, an exhibit of black and white artwork at the South End office of Cambridge Trust from now through June 28th. In anticipation for the reception on April 23rd, we’ve asked him a Fast Five questions.
How would you describe your artistic process?
In terms of what pulls me into a creative state, my artistic process is ever-changing. Sometimes it’s a surge of happiness, other times it’s otherwise. Sometimes it’s with an intention to capture a specific kind of moment or feeling, other times it’s a sensation – a desire to open myself up to the world & the endless possibility of what can be. Overall, the conclusion is a strive to remove as much of myself from my images as possible. Even in my self-portraiture, I try and step outside of myself and capture myself from perspectives based on that 3rd person. In street photography I strive to be an absent presence and find most of the tension that arises in the experience relaxing into full presence. Hearing and then lowering the volume on the voices of judgement and perception. Which comes natural in my processing of the world around me, and acknowledging, in a most silent and raw fashion, the presences of those around me.
What has been the most challenging or satisfying work you’ve made to date? When I step back far enough, the works I have completed thus far haven’t really felt difficult to execute. Follow-through is a different story! But execution once I’m in motion has been relatively easy because I’ve been creating from my soul. In works I am currently building, however, the struggle is real! And is based around several factors from doubt of reception and understanding of more complex expressions, to gaining comfort with opening projects for collaboration and enhancement through touch from other creative entities. I’m not prone to tell details of works-in-progress until I’ve reached a certain point of comfort in the process, but for one particular project (that will be ready to talk about by summertime!) I’m looking to work with over 200 Boston-based artists of color. It’s a huge undertaking, and I’m beyond excited for the opportunities for growth, collaboration and community.
What has led you to collaborate with The Art Connection?
Candidly, it was me being introduced to the organization through an artist I highly admire – both as a person and as a creative. Chanel Thervil has inspired me in a number of ways, especially around her ability to find and partner with organizations that support and provide spaces for art to grow, thrive and show. So, she contacted me about the opportunity, which had me look up The Art Connection. Immediately upon reading the mission statement I was sold.
If you could collaborate with any artist (living or dead) who would it be and why? Much of my more recent work has been based around mental health, healing, self-acceptance and self-love. Resultantly, this has led to an interest in collective healing and community empowerment as well. Yoga and meditation have been immeasurable components in my personal journey, and the music I’ve connected with along those steps has become near and dear to me. I would love to collaborate with Marquis Hill, a trumpet player and composer who created a project called the Meditation Tape. It is an absolute masterpiece of intention to create tools to channel inner-tranquility amidst perpetual evolution. I would love to create a video project in collaboration with either sounds he’s already composed or original ones for the occasion.
What do you hope viewers gain from engaging with your work?
That’s a wide question that I think stretches over my intention behind not only my photography, but also my poetry and prose, as well as my soon to be film projects. The answer is that I hope that through subtly intense dissection of everyday moments, feelings, and experiences, people are encouraged and offered opportunity to step outside of their own experience and strengthen their capacity to feel, acknowledge, respect and love the presence and life of those around them.
Can you describe a place to find art that you consider a hidden gem?
I found myself strolling through Allston a few weeks ago, seeking scenes to capture and doing a bit of recon for future photo projects, and stumbled upon a sign with an arrow that led me to an attic of a building on Harvard St. Therein, I found the Out of the Blue gallery. You may be familiar with the name – the space was originally located on Mass Ave, in Cambridge. I’d gone to a few art shows there and was saddened to hear of their closing. Turns out, it was more of a relocation, and they’re still alive and thriving. Space is much smaller, but the vibe is intimate and the intention that went into charging this new space with an energy of peacefully bold and serene expression permeates through the air of the rooms.
We hope to see you at the DAWN and DUSK Reception on April 23rd, but in the meantime you can enjoy more of Jourdan’s work online.