"Big Bend" from the series "Pilgrimage" 2011, Archival pigment print, 30x30"

“Big Bend” from the series “Pilgrimage”
2011, Archival pigment print, 30×30″

Katie Shapiro

My photographic practice examines American natural environments from a point of view that is both personal and sociological. I use portraiture as a key method to explore relationships, environments and social nuance.

In “Pilgrimage”, I employ the codes of performance-based self-portraiture to depict myself and my partner, a native Texan, in National Parks from the Channel Islands to Big Bend. We become progressively more cowboy-like as we approach Texas. I have staged these double-portraits in an effort to bring an often idealized and take-for-granted history into the present. For example, the New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s great social welfare program, included expansion of the National Parks’ systems through the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today, the Parks offer the classic American sanctuary, yet also evidence a country in distress with the looming threat of closures and budgetary cuts. Taking cues from sources as varied as Cindy Sherman’s film stills and Ansel Adams’ exploration of the West, my work seeks a synthesis of nature and culture, tempering deeply felt emotions with self-conscious irony.

Katie Shapiro (Los Angeles, CA) received her BFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2007. She has been exhibited nationally at Wall Space Gallery (Santa Barbara, CA), Kopeikin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO), A.I.R Gallery (NYC), and internationally at Bar du Matin (Brussels, Belgium) and CHB (Berlin, Germany). Her work has appeared in various publications, including LPV Magazine and Esquire: Russia.