Every now and again, you stumble upon an artist whose work feels like a breath of fresh air. It is encouraging, it is inspiring, and it is, above all else, motivation to keep on creating. Sara Cwynar is that breathe of fresh air. The Vancouver bred and New York-based photographer, illustrator, and graphic designer is known for her seemingly nostalgic images pushing the boundaries of the photograph and exploring multiplicities, color, and categorization.
Intentionally lacking the luster of contemporary commercial and fine art photographs, Cwynar’s work delves into the aesthetic of the outdated in the most fascinating way. Working with still lives and the odd saturation of synthetic and mass-produced materials, the work acts almost as an encyclopedia or catalogue of the artist’s various obsessions and collections, if not a response to the consumer culture we live in. There is a sense of humor to the work, as the images intentionally play with the “mistakes” photographers generally try to avoid—whether it be a slight glare on the backdrop paper, visible tape, or a simply mundane subject matter, Cwynar is evolving our understanding of what makes a good photograph, and what we should consider photographing.
The artist recently described her work in Interview Magazine, saying, “As nostalgic and analog as my work is, it’s often responding to the Internet… responding to the way we experience images now. You look at my photographs, and you read it in an instant as you do with everything, and then hopefully you realize, ‘Oh, wait, it’s not quite that’—maybe you could think about everything you’re looking at a little bit more, maybe you could notice some of the objects as things you own or relate to, or you could have the process thrown into question.”
text by Maddie Maschger