Jennifer Ray is a Wichita-based artist and educator. She received her MFA in Photography from Columbia College and BA in Studio Art from Oberlin College.
Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Museo del Barro, the Fundación Bienal Asunción, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. It was selected for the 1st Asunción Biennial (Paraguay) and Bienal de Curitiba (Brazil), and has been exhibited at the RISD Museum of Art, the Chelsea Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Hyde Park Art Center, and Chicago Cultural Center, among other venues. Her work is included in the Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography, published by Humble Arts Foundation. She’s received research grants from the Illinois Arts Council, Columbia College, the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, Oberlin College, and Wichita State University. She is currently Assistant Professor of Photo Media at Wichita State University.
At its surface, my ongoing project In Range is a documentation of objects I find at open shooting ranges – improvised targets that have been abandoned, leaving traces of their previous owners. I manipulate these found objects, treating them as sculptural material and photographing them on-site as if I were in the studio. The choice of targets reveals a pleasure in destruction that I find simultaneously understandable and disturbing. Most disquieting are the objects that were once alive, or that seem to serve as proxy for flesh – the wound in the globe of a cantaloupe, a mangled Polaroid, the leftovers of a game carcass.
With my arrangements, I draw on the real as well as the implied; I work to connect the present fact to the histories of violence in the United States. Though there are clues to their identities, I avoid photographing the shooters themselves. I want to look beyond simple matters of demographics toward the more fundamental reasons for our nation’s obsession. I’m interested in what unresolved strains of fear, anger, inequality, and hatred undergird our obsession with guns. I hope to imbue the viewing experience with a similar tension as is inherent in the activity itself, where aesthetic pleasure is tempered by implicit violence.
To view more of Jennifer Ray’s work please visit her website