Julia Blackman’s “Homegrown” Series

Julia Blackman, Weeds, 2009. Photograph. http://www.julieblackmon.com/. Retrieved August 8, 2018.

A daydreaming child propped up on a stool wearing an ivy cap blows smoke rings in the clearing of a forest. His two sisters watch idly in the sun on pale blue blankets while their brother naps, holding a half-empty gatorade and open pringles can. Scattered among them are bits and clues of the last half hour, t-shirts, a red plastic cup, and a bicycle wheel cropped from the scene dangling a red flag on a long, thin, white plastic pole.

The scattering of cheap store-bought items left for more entertaining playful experiences are common in Julia Blackman’s work, capturing moments of reverie and bliss that makes a suburban childhood so dreamlike. In her series “Homegrown”, the viewer is entertained by looking in and around her crisp photographs with a long depth of field and photojournalistic style, teasing out the joys of childhood imagination. Across the field of each picture plane, clue upon clue reveals itself upon longer inspection, each interacting to tell a story of what’s been happening for the past few minutes. Her scattered compositions of clues provide the viewer time to study the scene, aesthetically putting the viewer in the perspective of the detective and perhaps adult who’s always trying to make sense of what’s going on.

For Blackman, children have their own way of being in the world, play and bliss being her favorite; presented successfully in a suite of 47 photographs. Sequentially, they explore interior, exterior, aerial, dark, light, and seasonal perspectives of childhood in a technically sophisticated and precise manner. The level of intention can be overwhelming, almost surreal, causing a gloss of falsehood to be obvious in the age of digital manipulation of photography. Aesthetically and conceptually, Blackman’s work sings from the inspiration Sally Mann’s rural world toward a suburban, less natural one.