Installation View of "Vanitas", January 9 - February 28, 2010

Justine Reyes


January 9 – February 28, 2010

Taking inspiration from Dutch Vanitas paintings, these photographs incorporate personal artifacts within the traditional construct of still life. Pairing objects that belonged to my grandmother with my own possessions combines present and past and speaks to memory and personal legacy.

Both the decomposition of the natural (such as rotting fruit and wilting flowers) and the breakdown of the man-made objects reference the physical body and mortality. These objects bear witness to a spiritual trace or imprint that is left behind or residual. The insertion of subtle contemporary details (like the saran wrap, the family portrait, etc.) locates the work in a specific time and place. It also lightens the weight of both the art historical references and the family history.

Much of my work explores the power of objects to bear witness to intangible ideas and emotional truths. Moreover, my work often explores how identity is shaped by our relationship to and our personal idea of home. This body of work employs the iconography and symbols of common everyday objects as a means of communicating memory and the passing of time.

Justine Reyes lives and works in New York. In 2000 she received BFA from Syracuse University and in 2004 she received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Reyes’ work revolves around issues of identity, history, and time; and examines our relationship to these themes within the context of a post 9/11 world. Using photography and installation, she examines family, the idea of leaving and returning home, and the longing to hold on to things that are ephemeral and transitory in nature.

Reyes has shown her work both nationally and internationally. She participated in Proyecto Circo at the 8th Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba and took part in Contemporary Istanbul in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2008 Reyes was an artist in residence at both St. Mary’s College of Maryland and here at the Center for Photography at Woodstock where her series “Vanitas” began. In 2009 Reyes’s “Guayabera” series was included in Queens International 4 at The Queens Museum of Art. Reyes was recently awarded the Individual Artist Initiative (IAI) from the Queens Council on the Arts and a workspace residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) for 2009-2010.