Ms. Behavior
by Nancy Grace Horton

project STATEMENT

My photographs are investigations of female gender roles as influenced by American culture and mass media. My work is a 21st century extension of feminist concerns regarding the media’s portrayal of women. More specifically, I am interested in the explicit and implicit power relations that are constructed and maintained by systems of media representation.

Using narrative fragments that confound the conventions of popular culture, I explore the norms of female behavior—and misbehavior. I am inspired by cinema, TV, magazines and personal experiences. My creative process is planned but unscripted. It is exploratory but with firm goals and boundaries. Props, models, (who are often friends, or myself) and locations act as catalysts for the development of strong, graphic compositions that suggest fragments of an untold story.

Ideas come to me from varying directions: an article of clothing, a location, a gender-assigned object. A conversation or an experience may trigger a visual concept that begins the construction in my mind. This initiates my thinking about how to express the idea in a photograph. Before and during shooting I discuss the concepts with my models. They contribute to my process by understanding and playing off what I have set out to achieve. A powerful aspect of my process is the room I allow for the unknown, the moments when the unexpected happens during the shoot, creating and adding to the punctum of the images.

My process is that of a traditional photographer. I use film, a light meter, aperture, and shutter speed. I always crop in the camera, and I stress color and composition. I use analog processes to capture the image, then the digital darkroom, scanning and printing my final work. I strive for minimal post-production to make as straight a print from the negative as possible. I also use photography to create sculptures and hand made books. Many of my concepts become short videos based on my photographic work.

I intend my work to confront the viewer with their hidden preconceptions regarding women’s constructed roles within media and society. My goal is to provoke reactions and stimulate conversations about gender in our culture.

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