Jennifer Karady: In Country: Soldier’s Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan

March 31 – May 1, 2011

“In Country” consists of twelve large-scale 48 x 48 inch color photographs accompanied by a short synopsis of the veteran’s story written in his or her own words. Each work is initiated by an extensive interview process with the soldier, followed by a collaboration in which the veteran reenacts a chosen moment from war within the safe space of his or her everyday environment, often surrounded by family and friends. Unlike some photographers who use actors to stage narratives, Karady works with real veterans to dramatize their stories through narrative and metaphorical techniques. Through this process the artist makes visible the psychological impact of war—the nightmares and memories that soldiers continue to experience after returning home.

Karady’s methodology represents a highly determined, detail-oriented approach to portraiture that is akin to creating a film. The process of making each photograph requires approximately one month of her time and includes the conceptualization with the veteran, location scouting, production of a sketch, propping, makeup, costuming, rehearsing of the physical action, training local assistants, set construction, artificial lighting, and the actual photo shoot.

In a New York Times interview dated May 5, 2010, Karady described her process as equal parts journalism and psychotherapy: “This [trauma] is replaying visually in the person’s head, and we really have no idea what is going on. But the idea, conceptually, of taking that moment and recontextualizing and placing it in the civilian world, is based on a therapeutic model.”

Karady initiated her project in July 2006. Over the past four years, she has produced a series of photographs with veterans in Florida, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Nebraska, Virginia, New York City, upstate New York and San Francisco.

Her current exhibition was developed by SF Camerawork, a non-profit photography organization that supported a month-long residency for Karady in 2010. In addition to exhibiting Karady’s work, SF Camerawork published an exhibition catalog that will available to Denver audiences. Partners and funds are now being sought by the Myhren Gallery to support a Denver residency for Karady, with the goal of engaging with Colorado veterans to create new works for future exhibitions. If you are a veteran or know a veteran who might be interested in participating in this national project, please email Jennifer Karady at jenkarady@earthlink.net.