Interview with Teresa LoJacono

Alessandro Teoldi: In some of your pictures the subject is hair. Hair has been an important and significant subject in your work since last year, when at the Slide Fest you did a performance based on cutting your hair. Could you tell us a little bit about the meaning that it has for you?

Teresa LoJacono: The most fascinating aspect of hair is that it’s dead.  A dead thing is growing from our bodies and yet we adore it, in some cases idolize it.  It is a symbol of youth, beauty, age, character, ethnicity, it tells a story without the spoken word.  It is visually stimulating and lush.  I cut my hair because I used it for all the wrong reasons, to hide myself, my insecurities, from the world.  Experiencing its loss gained an appreciation, an envy.  So the cycle starts again.  With loss there is regrowth.

AT: When I saw your images I immediately thought about the importance of traces. In this way hair is a meaningful subject, we lose hair constantly during our lives, leaving traces of ourselves around the world. What do you think about this relationship between hair and traces?

TL: Hair is DNA.   I take a photograph of a strand of hair on a desk but whose is it? A women, man, child, teenager, dog, cat…  The idea of ‘traces’ doesn’t stray far from the stories I tell, but it also doesn’t encompass my thought process.

AT: Why did you title your show Nature of Place?

TL: Nature is a word that illustrates every bit of who I am.  It gives inherent features to something.  As for place, it has many definitions; it talks about a particular position or point in space, a point you stopped at in a book, it points out an area being used by someone, implies a situation and helps you recognize where someone or something comes from.  All of these identities of place along with nature embody a merge.

AT: That title is interesting. It seems that nature and its relationship with the human body plays an important role in this show. What do you think about this correlation?

TL: This goes back to the “merge” I mentioned.  Going through my archive I began to recognize a duality.  This duality may be between two different photographers or two different people.  The images I take in California are romantic, creating a lush fantasy of the landscape.  New York is a portrayal of the body through spontaneous moments, aiming to bring my vulnerability to forefront.  Will these two ‘personas‘ marry?  Yes.  They live together in the state of in-between, a space which integrates identities of rural and urban, nature and body.

AT: In the show you present an interesting audio piece, that could be considered as a key to the entire exhibition. Can you talk a little bit about it?

TL: The audio is an entry point, my way of setting the tone for the entire show.  A metaphor of my journey over the past two years, and in many ways a self-portrait.  In the end I wanted it to be know that a departure, or resolution have you, has been made.  That a sense of place was established and the images before you speak to that resolve.

AT: You are from California. In your work, how influential was your move to New York City, which is such a different reality in terms of places and a way of living?

TL: That’s what Intimate Disclosure was about.  When I moved to New York making sense of everything that was happening around me was frustrating.  I had a hard time wrapping my mind around a new culture, a new lifestyle.  And I was highly pessimistic.  I attempted to work through my displacement by recording the unfamiliar terrain.  I took walks as much as possible not only to establish a routine but to encourage a sense of belonging.  Little things like knowing street names, making mental notes of nearby bars, coffee shops, laundromats, periodically jumping on the subway or the bus… I did whatever I could.

Slowly things started to become familiar to me. I found an apartment and school had just started; a sense of relief was coming around.  It was having that consistency which kept my mind moving and put me in a place where I began to think less of my surroundings and more of me.  Turning my artistic medium on myself has never been a part of my practice and it intrigued me.   It was an unexplored realm of expression, an untapped field of exploration.

AT: The image of the snow fall is pretty interesting in this context. Californians don’t see snow so frequently, right?

TL: Yes and no.  The beautiful thing about California is that you have everything accessible to you.  Every type of climate and landscape: redwood forrest, beaches, mountains, valleys, plains and the dessert.  Never a boring moment… If we were talking about my my home town though, the last time we had a snow storm
I was five and I have no memory of it.

AT: There is a common saying that when you move somewhere else, the sky upon you will always be the same one (of course only if you move in the same hemisphere!). Is there any of this kind of meaning in your “skies” pictures?

TL: I look to the sky because it is infinite.  I’m looking at hundreds of thousands of lightyears into space not knowing a piece of what is in my sight.  It excites me.

AT: My favorite image is the one of the bed. Can you tell me a little bit about it? What’s the story behind it?

TL: This is one of the first photographs I took in my new apartment.  My roommate and I were barely moved in, we had no dining table, boxes everywhere, I just got tired of the endless packing and took a break.  I snuck a peek in her room to see how things were going and thought her bedspread looked beautiful with the clouded light coming through the windows.

AT: You’re almost at the end of the program. What’s your plan for next year?

TL: I’m leaving that decision open for now.  Although, Colorado has been on my mind.

Opening Reception: March 8 | Thursday | 6:00–10:00 pm
On View: March 9-10 | Friday–Saturday | 12:00–5:00 pm

ICP-Bard MFA Studios, 24–20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, New York

Bake. Baked. Baker.

In order to put your mind at peace one might meditate, go for a drive, read a book or write in a journal.  As for me, I love to bake.  Their is something regal about being in the kitchen and inventing a work of art that will tantalize your taste buds.  After a long day of thinking intellectually and conceptually about photography, I find the only way to calm my brain and put the thousands of thoughts that are bouncing back and forth to order is to use my creative talents in an alternative way.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I developed a passion for the culinary arts.  In those few years I have documented my creations through photography by integrating them into my very own cookbook.  I find that taking a break from the hectic life of being an MFA student and reverting my talents in a different form keeps me sane and allows my creativity to explore new venues.

Blueberry Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Orange Zest Frosting! YUM!

Chocolate Cake:

2  1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2  1/2 cups sugar

1  1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2  1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1  1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1  1/4 teaspoon salt

1  1/4  cup warm water

1  1/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup vegetable oil plus 2 tablespoons

2 large eggs and 1 large yolk

1  1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1  1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice

Chocolate Frosting with Orange Zest:

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons orange zest

Preparation:

For cake:

Position racks in top and bottom third of oven.  Preheat oven to 350°F.   Coat two 9-inch cake pans, bottom and sides,  with butter.  Line bottoms of cake pans with parchment paper rounds, coat top of rounds with butter as well.  In a small bowl combine almond milk and lemon juice.  Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  In a small sauce pan simmer blueberries until most of the berries burst and release their juice.  Set aside to cool.  In a large bowl sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into large bowl.  Combine water,  almond milk/lemon juice mixture, oil, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients using an electric mixer to blend.  Fold in blueberries.  Divide cake batter between prepared pans.  Bake cakes for 40 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.   Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.  Run a butter knife around edges of cakes to loosen.  Release cake and peal off parchment paper.

* While Cakes are cooling prepare frosting.

For Frosting:

Cream butter in medium size bowl with electric mixer; about 3 min.  Sift together cocoa powder and powdered sugar.  Add gradually to butter mixing thoroughly with each addition.   Add vanilla and heavy cream mixing well until fluffy.   Fold in orange zest.   You are now ready to frost your cake!

Using a small plastic spatular cover the top of one cake evenly; about 1 to 1  1/2 cup.  Place second round on top and press down gently to level.  With the remaining frosting cover top and sides evenly.  Garnish top of cake with orange zest.

Why I Make Images

I’ll find a new love

I love you

The candles light are burning smoking, remembering

The loves once had, the loves lost needed, forgotten

The light of happiness grows within brightly

Flickering its desires its emotions its pain

How it hurts to be a real person

A person who feels love and pain, expresses and experiences

The candles flame will soon be burned out

Full of indifference

Without emotions

Without life

Live life – Be real

By Susan LoJacono

1971

I believe that I owe all my creativity and devotion to making images to my mother.

It was at the age of 12 that I captured my first photograph with a small point and shoot camera that was given to me as a Christmas gift by my mom.  The pure joy and satisfaction of capturing a moment in time quickly turned the art into an addiction.  Most of the concepts behind my art are derived from the experiences and struggles I have lived through. My work is very personal to me; every image I take is a portrait of myself.  I discover a new piece to the puzzle of who I am with every frame.

Documentary photography was my first introduction to the art and I instantly fell in love with the passage it invites the viewer to take into unknown worlds.  From that point on, I’ve looked at my camera as a tool to capture the personality and individual essence of the subjects I shoot.  As an artist, I feel it is my job to secure shots when my subjects are least aware, capturing the most real and raw of moments.  Showing a person how they interact with their surroundings through film allows a person to have insight into their own lives, to see who they are in just one still image of one small fragment in time.  Photographic imagery tells stories, makes you laugh or cry, takes your imagination to places you didn’t know existed, stimulates your senses to the fullest, and provides memories.  Once visually stimulated, it is up to the audience to draw their own conclusions through the images left in their head.

I find peace in making images.  I don’t have to be afraid, I can just be.  To most people around me I am person of few words.  The task of piecing together my thoughts and ideas and articulating them clearly is a feat I have yet to accomplish.  But with every image I create I know that I am taking one step further.  Photography is my outlet to gaining confidence and completing my self-portrait.