Jillian Mascheroni’s “Family Photos” digital photography exhibit is now on display in the University Union’s Epicenter Gallery. The photos show traditional family photos with some unconventional twists.
Grandparents dressed like middle schoolers, cats posed outside of doghouses and surly goth teenagers in stuffy living rooms may be funny, but the artist said she wants to do more than merely entertain.
Mustang Daily (MD): Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Mascheroni (JM): I’m a fourth year student studying photography in the art and design department. I used to be studio art, but I found that photography was really what I had a passion for.
MD: What made you realize that photography was your passion?
JM: My mom was actually the one who got me into it. She had this old film camera, and I used it in my required black-and-white photography class. I really fell in love with it, it was a defining moment.
MD: How is digital photography different from traditional print photography?
JM: It’s a lot faster to get results. Working with film and studio art takes more patience, you have to be very careful with what you’re doing. With digital, it’s different, you can take as many pictures as you want. It’s a different labor process.
MD: Where do you find your inspiration?
JM: I’ve been taking a lot of women’s and gender studies classes, trying to get the minor. In those, we’re dealing with gender and social roles. I thought that was something that I wanted to study.
MD: Is that how you arrived at the idea for “Family Photos?”
JM: “Family Photos” started with stereotypes. Gender roles, age roles, race, socioeconomic factors, career roles. I really wanted to address that.
MD: Why do you think photography is a good medium to explore these issues?
JM: I think photos are one of many ways to look at these problems. For me, it’s the best way to explain visually how I see these roles.
MD: There’s one photo called “The Mascheronis,” (which portrays a couple where the wife is dressed like the husband and vice versa), are those really your parents?
JM: (Laughs) Yeah, those are my parents. My dad hated holding that cat. The cat was freaking out the whole time. A lot of the portraits were friends and family of mine. Some were a little bit hesitant about helping out at first, but it worked out. The grandparents in the other photo are actually my grandparents.
MD: Are you working on any new projects?
JM: I’m taking an ad photography class, and we have a magazine project. I want to do more exploration of gender stereotypes. I’m going to get some of my male friends to put on dresses and stuff. I guess you could say a lot of my projects have to do with social construction and how we perceive things not to be normal.
MD: You’re graduating in June. What’s next?
JM: There are a lot of options. Grad school, if I can afford it. I’m looking at UCLA, Cal Arts or the Art Institute of Chicago. Or take a year off and figure out what I want to do. I really want to find an assisting job with an established photographer.
More of Mascheroni’s work can be found at jillmphoto.com.