Karen Jerzyk’s Surreal Photography: “The Lonely Astronaut”
Fine art photographer Karen Jerzyk talks about how her love of photography in her childhood has influenced her signature style of surreal photography.
My name is Karen Jerzyk and I work and live in Manchester, NH. I’m a surrealistic photographer who combines elements of sci-fi and fantasy with elaborate environments to create visual narratives. Whether I build a set from scratch in my studio or find an existing location, I always adorn the spaces with characters that are then brought to life through my lens.
Striving for an element of what some people have said reminds them of an era of “future-past”, my photos tend to appear timeless, with colorful montages laden with underlying themes. There is no right answer to the ultimate meaning of any one of my photos, as each viewer can read the scene differently. I want my work to be personal to each viewer.
As I got older, I loved films by David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Terry Gilliam. Movies have always been a huge inspiration to me…
I grew up in the 80s and my parents used to bring me to the movies a lot and we rented lots and lots of movies (I also read a lot). I loved watching films from Jim Henson, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and Stanley Kubrick. As I got older, I loved films by David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Terry Gilliam. Movies have always been a huge inspiration to me (I would love to work in films more). The 80s had such a dreamy aura to it.
When I shoot, it’s very important to me that I use little to no Photoshop. Everything in the photo has to be “there” in real life. I always love the reactions of people when I build a set as they see it for the first time.
I also love finding places in nature along with abandoned houses, hospitals, and other buildings. I attribute most of my work to the unexpected death of my father in 2011 and the need to use art to heal.
I always love the reactions of people when I build a set as they see it for the first time.
I currently travel around the US, photographing people for various projects. I started “The Lonely Astronaut” series for a few reasons. The simplest is, I love astronauts. I’ve always loved the imagery of the astronaut, and what they represent. The. More in-depth reason is what I’ve dealt with the past few years. People around me proved to be very malicious, selfish, and “in it” for themselves. Everyone always took from me, but never stood up for me or helped me the few times I desperately needed it.
I started “The Lonely Astronaut” series for a few reasons. The simplest is, I love astronauts.
I realized how alone I really was, and how difficult it is trying to be a good person and finding good people to be friends with/make art with in a world where everyone is trying to get ahead by stepping on each other. The astronaut is a symbolic representation of myself, traveling around, paying attention to everything and taking it all in, all the while seemingly alone. In the end, we have to love ourselves because it seems like that’s all we really have.
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