Meet The Editors: Rachel Jump
All of the editors of Aint-Bad can agree on one simple fact, we like photography. I mean, we really like it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise or anything, as most of our time is spent looking at, writing about, and thinking about photography. We’re excited to introduce ourselves as editors, as photography purveyors, as human beings. We’re kicking the series off with our Black & White Queen editor, Rachel Jump. Rachel has been a part of the Aint-Bad team since October 2015.
As a balanced Libra, Rachel Jump works tirelessly on numerous projects and exhibitions at once. She is represented by Alibi Fine Art in Chicago, Illinois, which held her first major solo exhibition in November 2015. She made her curatorial debut at Filter Photo with Aint-Bad Metropolis: Chicago, which was a group exhibition that highlighted a selection of artists making photographs in the Chicago area. Rachel is currently working as a Portfolio Reviewer for LensCulture, an editor for Aint-Bad, and as the Communications Coordinator for Mana Contemporary Chicago. She was a FIELD/WORK artist-in-residence at the Chicago Artists Coalition from October 2016 – April 2017.
We sat down and asked her a few questions about being an editor and the influences on her personal work.
Where ya from?
That’s always a peculiar question as my family moved around quite a bit over the course of my life, which has been the inspiration for my current body of work, “Origins”. At the moment, I’m splitting my time between Chicago, IL and Lawrence, KS.
What constitutes a GOOD photograph or body of work? What are you drawn to when putting together Aint-Bad features?
I am compelled by work that poses me with a question as opposed to a conclusion- a series of photographs that finds a resolution within itself leaves very little space for the viewer to create their own interpretations. I am also drawn to work that forces me to be vulnerable and encourages me to empathize with their visual narrative through my own personal experiences. One of the most memorable pieces of advice I received during my time in art school was provided by my grandfather. After he viewed my thesis work about my family, he said that my audience will be hesitant to gravitate towards me photographs because it forced them to reflect upon sensitive topics surrounding their personal family dynamics. “Not a lot of people will allow themselves to be vulnerable to your photographs or put the work in to understand it, but we will because we’re you’re family.”
What is the most memorable image you’ve ever seen?
The most recent memorable experience I had with photography was experiencing Alfredo Jaar’s piece, The Sound of Silence, 2006, as a part of the exhibition, Witness, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). It is this incredibly intimate and sensory experience that describes the life of the photojournalist, Kevin Carter, and how his life unraveled after publishing his work from Sudan. I won’t give away what happens, but the piece hurled my body into a complete state of shock— an all-encompassing, crippling anxiety. Jaar’s piece forced me to weigh the moral implications that stem from the photographic image.
Who has influenced your work the most?
The most influential figure in my life continues to be David Prifti, my high school photography teacher. He was a masterful wet collodion photographer and created powerful, yet tender, portraits of family, friends, and students. Prifti helped me see photography as a vessel for personal catharsis, and a way to reconnect with the people who I surrounded myself with. He passed away in 2011, but his influence continues to leave a monumental impact upon my life. As I age, I am still amazed by how his presence feels so alive within me, and I don’t think this sensation will ever fade away.
I’ve deemed you the Queen of Black and White, are you okay with this title? What is it about B&W that has stolen your heart?
We only had a black and white darkroom in high school, and I never truly felt the urge to create photographs in color (except when I saw Barbara Bosworth’s book, Natural Histories, for the first time.) Creating images in black and white encourages me to extract the emotional capacity of my subject matter, through form and aura, as opposed to feelings brought on by color. Shooting in such a manner has become a second language to me- a visual fluency.
I know this is quite a difficult and somewhat boring question, but what is your favorite film? Why? How has it contributed to your photographic process?
Ilford HP5 4×5 film. I shoot in various lighting situations, and it gives me the versatility I need. When you keep to a consistent methodology- camera functions, film, chemicals, etc- you don’t really need to focus on the technical aspects, which allows you the space to harness your energy into creating.
There are “rumors” floating around that you’re in a beautiful relationship with another photographer. This is romantic in many ways. If you’re comfortable, would you mind sharing how your photographic interest and passion align and contribute to your relationship? Is it harder or easier to love on someone who shares this artistic medium?
Part of me would love to delve into of the tender details of our relationship, but I want to keep this special piece of our lives to ourselves. I will say that it a privilege to share my photographic life with someone else and, as artists, we are truly able to empathize with one another’s creative endeavors, triumphs, and setbacks. We have been focusing our attention on how personal memories and cultural ideologies impact family dynamics from different perspectives, and it is immensely humbling and comforting to be able to confide in one another.
Your work is very intimate and personal, and your tonality contributes to this otherworldly quality, like unedited memories you’ve plucked to tell a story. I think many people struggle with being too vulnerable with their work, especially on an online platform. How do you find the confidence to be so confrontational with considerably intimate images?
I feel like photography provided a way for me to finally be honest with myself, as I previously lacked an outlet to express these incredibly personal experiences. The medium allows me to be fearless, and I find that the act of unveiling difficult truths to be immensely cathartic. I am compelled to reveal the beauty within the dark aspects of life, and this endeavor has made me a far more compassionate and patient person.
What is the worst photograph you’ve ever made?
The photographs I didn’t make but should have.
If you could be best friends with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
What’s your favorite song right now?
Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
Living near the ocean with my family and making photographs.
We’re honored to have Rachel as a part of the Aint-Bad team, demonstrating her tireless passion through every facet. Have more questions for Rachel? Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or spend some time on her website, http://www.racheljump.net.