Q&A: Natalie Krick
By Jess T. Dugan | March 17, 2016
Natalie Krick (born 1986) lives in Seattle, Washington. She received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY in 2008 and her MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL in 2012. She has recently exhibited at the Aperture Gallery in New York, NY, at the David Weinberg Gallery in Chicago, IL, and at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center in Denver, CO. In 2015, she received an Individual Photographer's Fellowship from the Aaron Siskind Foundation.
Jess T. Dugan: Let’s start at the beginning. How did your work take on its particular subject and form? Were you always drawn to photographing women primarily, or did that develop over time?
Natalie Krick: First, I was drawn to looking at images of women and when I was younger I fantasized about becoming a fashion photographer. As time passed I became conflicted about the ways women are imaged as well as the meaning of my role as an image maker and I wanted to make work in response to that. I became more interested in portraiture and the way people dress and construct their identity and it wasn’t until a few years later that I started to focus on photographing women.
JTD: Tell me about your relationship with your mother. To what degree is she an inspiration behind the work? What is your process of making pictures together? To what extent are you playing roles and to what extent do the photographs represent your individual identities?
NK: That’s one of the things that I love about photography - how do you tease apart a performance for the camera from an authentic identity - you can’t. I will say that the images are performative, highly styled but sometimes we wear our own clothes and many of the pictures are taken in our personal surroundings. There’s a personal or autobiographical element but there’s also always fiction. I pull from a lot of different sources from vintage playboy magazines to images of my grandma to Man Ray to photoshop mishaps and celebrity portraiture. My mom doesn’t play a large role in planning the images so our process becomes collaborative when we actually start photographing,
As far as our relationship, we’re very close. She’s wonderful and I am so thankful for her dedication and willingness to make this work with me.
JTD: I love your use of light and color, particularly your use of flash and saturated, intense color schemes. How did you come to work this way? To what extent is your visual style influenced by fashion and fashion photography?
NK: I started using a flash when I was an undergraduate student because I knew it was wrong and considered bad lighting but I loved the way it lit up everything for scrutiny and made the color pop. I am definitely influenced by fashion photography, especially Guy Bourdin, who was a French fashion photographer. His photographs are funny yet unnerving and his use of color is so good.
JTD: One of my favorite images of yours is “Mom and Dad, ok cupid date #2,” which shows an image of you and your date overlaid on top of an image of your parents. The image conjures up so many things for me- sexuality, desire, learned patterns of relationships, shared experiences across generational divides. How did this image come to be, and do you see the work moving more in this direction?
NK: When making this image my first attempt was to copy the “iconic kiss” cinematic cliche using myself and a man I didn’t know. We would play the actors who were pretending to be love, an image that was romantic yet meaningless to me. At this time in my life I was longing for a meaningful romantic relationship. I was thinking about the ways I’ve developed expectations for relationships, learning from culture but also from my parents (who have been married for over 35 years). I was playing around with the top image and it started to speak to the things that I was thinking about after I placed it over an image I made of my parents. I have been experimenting more with collage recently so it’s fair to say that I’m moving in that direction!
JTD: What role does humor play in your work?
NK: Humor is important to me but it’s also a balancing act. I use titles to point out the humor. Many of the titles are tongue in cheek and reveal what I am referencing or what is going on in front of the camera that might not be apparent by looking at the pictures (revealing that hard nipples are actually skittles tucked inside a shirt or that two older kissing mouths wearing lipstick are actually my mother’s parents).
JTD: Your work engages with strong female sexuality and often challenges expected, traditional representations of femininity. What reactions have you received to this aspect of your work? What challenges have you experienced as a result of making these photographs?
NK: I’ve had so many positive responses which I try to let outshine the negative. From the beginning, I was interested in making pictures that were complicated and I wanted to subvert the notion of women being easy on the eyes. I’ve encountered a lot of criticism but I’ve learned to accept that many comments are a reflection of the sexist and ageist disposition that certain individuals have.
JTD: Where do you find inspiration? What are you excited about at the moment?
NK: Right now I’m thrilled about spring in Seattle! It’s my first spring in the city and I am in awe of all the gorgeous plants and the colors of the flowering trees! (Wow - I sound like my Mom- ha!). I find inspiration in Kim Kardashian’s instagram, pin ups, paparazzi pictures of celebrities, plants that look artificial, bright colors, thrift stores, art museums, books, my personal life and the ones I love.
JTD: What’s on the horizon for you as an artist?
NK: I’m very excited to be working on a book with Search Party Press which will be available for presale in the late Spring or early Summer. Recently I’ve been embracing the creative struggle of making collage work while also photographing my sister every few months when she’s in town from Portland.
All images © Natalie Krick