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Jessica Labatte

Jessica Labatte is an artist based in the suburbs of Chicago, whose constructed imagery investigates the materiality of photography through light, color, illusion, and paradoxes inherent in photographic representation. Labatte is Assistant Professor of Art and head of Photography at Northern Illinois University. She received her MFA and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In June 2014 she was an Artist in Residence at Light Work, Syracuse, NY. Her work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL, Elmhurst Art Museum, IL South Bend Museum of Art, IN, Hyde Park Art Center, IL Higher Pictures, NYC, Golden Gallery, NYC and Chicago, and Horton Gallery, NYC. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New Yorker,, and Chicago Magazine. She is represented by Western Exhibitions, Chicago.

Artist statement

My photographs are formal explorations of everyday objects and materials that engage the subjectivity and experiential qualities of matter. Juxtapositions of content, form, and color imbue dynamism into the still life tradition in their ability to place a still object into a state of becoming. Perspectival manipulations produced with the large-format camera shift and tilt the picture plane, creating a confusing sense of depth and scale, while large-format inkjet prints engross the viewer in fields of color and texture. My images play with the illusionistic tendencies of photography and its potential to simultaneously reveal truths and spin falsehoods. Constructing a tension between accurate representations of form and deceiving attempts at flatness, my photographs lead viewers through questioning what it is we are actually seeing and how it was created. Carefully exploiting the faults of photographic representation, mind-bending forms prompt pleasurable questioning and provoke active looking. Using double exposures, mirrors, cross-processing, and colored lights, I create images that flirt with the possibilities presented by digital technologies while remaining grounded in explorations of the processes of analog and indexical photographic representation. Looking back to Dutch still life paintings and forward through the computer, my photographs present objects for contemplation on the social, political and technics of our time. The images foreground human presence as they engage photography’s potential as the link between physical and immaterial worlds.

Jessica Labatte's work appears courtesy the artist and Western Exhibitions, Chicago.