Julie Blackmon Biography
Contemporary American photographer Julie Blackmon draws much of her inspiration from the raucous tavern scenes of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painters, like Jan Steen. Pulling from her own family life, Blackmon creates digitally manipulated images set in familiar environments, such as a backyard barbecue or a grocery store, in which multiple narratives take place at once. Both comical and serene, her photographs focus on scenes often involving children and family of her own, saturated with pathos and a fascination with the everyday. Her work serves as a mash-up of pop phenomena, consumer culture, and social satire. As she explains, “I’ve lived in Springfield, Missouri, my whole life, in the same neighborhood, surrounded by my five sisters.” Blackmon also states, “I’m inspired by everyday things- like this Fedex truck delivering a chair. I like to exaggerate what I see and experience, though, like writers and filmmakers do. There’s a point when it becomes fiction, but what should come through is the stress, chaos, darkness, and charm of everyday life.”
Julie Blackmon was born in 1966 in Springfield, Missouri, where she currently lives and works. Blackmon studied art at Missouri State University, where she became interested in photographers Sally Mann and Diane Arbus. She left college before finishing her degree but proceeded to photograph years later once she became a mother of three and turned her domestic experience into a focus for her early work.
Mind Games was Blackmon’s first major body of work, which featured black and white images exploring childhood play. In 2004, this series won her an honorable mention in Project Competition hosted by the Santa Fe Center for Photography and a merit award from the Society of Contemporary Photography in Kansas City, Missouri. Succeeding Mind Games, Blackmon turned to color film to create her next body of work, Domestic Vacations, recalling the notably chaotic familial scenes inside carefully tailored environments. Blackmon’s most recent monograph of work, Homegrown, follows the same formula she developed in Domestic Vacations, except in this series she looks at environments outside of the home.
Julie Blackmon’s photographs have been shown in a number of exhibitions and can be found in the permanent collections such as theCleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH;George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, Kemper Museum of Contemporary ArtPortland Art Museum, Portland, OR;Microsoft Art Collection, Redmond, WA; and The Walt Disney Corporation, among others. She’s been included in exhibitions at institutions like The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, NH; Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover DE Houston Center of Photography, Houston, TX; and many more.