Matthew Blanshei from ArtKnoxville Reviewed Jessie Morris’s Show

Jessie Morris

Here’s the link: or you can read below:

Along with the advent of digital imaging programs, there has been a revival of the nineteenth-century photogravure print and photogram. Jessie Morris’s latest photographs follow this counter-trend by utilizing one of the earliest photographic processes, the cyanotype. Invented in 1842, it was widely employed in the 1880s by architects and engineers who used the “blue print” paper to make copies of their designs. As a form of art photography, however, it came under attack by luminaries like Peter Henry Emerson, who likened printing a landscape in cyanotype to an act of vandalism.

Because Emerson had assigned to photography a strictly documentary function, it was no wonder he was scandalized by the appearance of blue landscapes. But just as Picasso’s “Blue Period” hardly held up a mirror to external reality, Morris’s cyanotypes convey a sense of experimentation that allows her to delve into the realm of the unconscious.

Traces of unconscious thoughts and affects can be found in two prints that offer a variation on a theme, which registers far more than two different subjective “impressions” of a single object perceived at different times of the day. (The two photos are also devoid of the sort of irony that underlies Andy Warhol’s silk-screen copies of tabloid photographs.)

The man gazing out the window in the second print is captured in a studied pose that seems highly artificial when compared to the first print’s rendering of a recollection, the precarious nature of which is implied by the seemingly spontaneous emergence of white, brushstroke-like fissures,

The extent to which an absence can be more compelling than a presence also becomes apparent when the contrast between the visible and the invisible that is typically delineated by the frame of the photograph appears within a single image.

In this print, what seems to be breaking apart before our eyes is another memory, its reliability perhaps suddenly cast into doubt by a belated recognition that has unexpectedly come in with the breeze rustling the curtain beside a wall clock sinking into the shadows of time.

The way someone appears to us is shaped by the image we have cultivated of him or her; however, often our image and the actual person collide, an event suggested by the magnified, concentrated, and almost violent gestural abstractions that are on the verge of obliterating the “original” portrait in the following untitled print.