A slideshow of photographer and current Smack Mellon Studio Artist Rachelle Mozman‘s work sparked Art Ready students’ curiosity in various ways–one big question was how she gets access to the people and places she depicts. These include suburban homes and the children who inhabit them in Panama and New Jersey, where Rachelle did a series exploring the isolation and class divisions in both places. Another ongoing series, Casa de Mujeres, features Rachelle’s own mother playing the characters of three different women, photoshopped into the same photo and also digitally manipulated to look like women with different skin tones representing different levels of a class hierarchy.
To the question of access, Rachelle responded, “You just have to ask.” She says her mother is also a very good subject, willing to even travel with her to different Latin American countries to stage photographs in different houses.
In her Smack Mellon studio, Rachelle showed more of her pictures on display on the walls, as well as a newer video piece, A Mother’s Gaze, that explores, in Rachelle’s words, “how my mother would represent me if given a chance.” For this project, Rachelle asks her mother to draw her once a week, and videotapes the process.
Rachelle established an instant connection with some of the Art Ready students by revealing that she grew up in New York City and attended La Guardia High School, where some members of Art Ready go to school. In art school, she started out as a painter, but ultimately realized photography was a better way to “engage themes around family, class and gender divides.” Yet her process is very inventive. Lately, Rachelle always feels she needs to manipulate her photos in some way to get her message across. She will explain that working with photoshop is a little bit like painting–to make something look convincing, you need to have a basic knowledge of perspective, shading, and color. Like many artists, Rachelle also makes her living mostly as an art teacher in different programs serving youth and senior citizens.
As a mentor, Rachelle could teach her students new photoshop skills, as well as general photography skills like lighting. She also hopes to take students on field trips to photography shows.
Similarly to how they had reacted to Michael Paul Britto’s work several weeks before, several students expressed a sense of “discomfort” with Rachelle’s work, but “in a good way.” One person also said, “I really liked the techniques she used.”