“I’m not interested in matching the colors of your couch with my fine art photography,” said Patricia Izzo, a black-and-white film photographer.
Truthful and blunt in her artistic style, Izzo is a firm believer of connecting with people (not people’s couches) through her art. Izzo wants people to have an emotional response when they look at her art; she is more interested in touching a viewer’s emotions than creating a pretty picture.
Much of her photography shines light on humanity’s shared fears and collective triumphs. To accomplish this, Izzo frequently gives a voice to her photographs by including a line of text, taken from literature or written by her. It was her combined love for writing and photography that first inspired Izzo and I to collaborate on Project <ONE>, a photography collection that provides a female narrative to racial stereotypes. Adrienne Dunlevy, Amanda Puja and Nara Kim were the subjects, each taking on a different stereotype that they themselves had faced.
Taken in Trenton, Mich. at Elizabeth Park (one of Izzo’s favorite places to go for her work), the blue sky set against vivid fall colors made for an ideal spot for Project <ONE>’s photo shoot.
Although her work usually displays more of a subtle tone, Izzo decided to use highly overt messaging for this project. Izzo presents the text on each card in a way that doesn’t give outside viewers a chance to speculate on their meaning. However, she leaves a few details within the text’s style to differentiate between the three distinct stereotypes. For example, Izzo underlines both “CRACK” and “ME,” placing the cards next to each other in the photograph with all three subjects. The weight of the font varies (“crack” is lighter while “me” is a heavy, bold style), suggesting different emotions behind each statement. In the third card, “she doesn’t speak English very well,” Izzo capitalizes all of the letters except “l,” reinforcing the subject’s insecurity about speaking English. Similarly, the first card, “I’m off the creamy crack,” plays off of stereotypical African American vernacular. Thus, Izzo elegantly deepens the significance of the text in the photos, using small hints to reenforce that stereotypes run deep.
In addition to the cards, Izzo conveys her bold messages by bringing out a character through each of her subject’s stances, facial expressions and costumes. For example, two of the subjects are looking directly at the camera, making the third’s sunglasses and detached upward glance more noticeable.
“Cards are the obvious,” Izzo said. “Faces are not.”
In <ONE>, viewers can see the hidden lies that society perpetuates through subtle prejudice, exposing racist stereotypes through art. While we often don’t want to admit the truth, we are constantly fed falsely construed images by society. However, the irony of this piece comes out in its simple title: ONE. Each portrayed stereotype is ultimately brought together as one because the subjects still have one thing that binds them together and transcends racial stereotypes: they are all women.
Izzo’s most recent exhibition, “…but I am awake now” features works that helped her first awaken to the idea of becoming an artist. For more information about the exhibition and Patricia Izzo, please visit www.izzophotography.com
This article was previously published on Art Animal.