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Inside Out: Leading

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Katrina Umber, Roses + Bike

AJ wrote the kindest introduction. By talking about the two bodies of work AJ mentioned, I hope to give you some insight into the how and why of my work. The rest of my posts will most likely resemble my notebook entries in form: loose quotes and images that have been and still are extremely important to me.

I’ve carried a camera on my person over half my life now (not that I necessarily use a camera everyday) and decided early on that whatever occurs in my life would be the parameters within which I would make my work.

Katrina Umber, Umber Boys

As AJ mentioned, U is a book and body of work which depicts my family and their home in Corona, California, over the course of fifteen years. I’ve used the family saga as a structure to address issues of identity, personal development, relational or power dynamics, and the passage of time. U then operates as a testament of emotional attachment and interpersonal relationships. One of the many threads in U is the story of my brother John. John was away in prison for three years. This was dealt with through a lack of photographs in my archive, while my dad planned a family shot on the beach leaving room for him and then digitally inserted a scan of John from a prison Polaroid.

Katrina Umber, John, guestroom

This photograph was made by me John’s first day back at our folks'. Talking about this photograph during a studio visit with Daniel Bozhkov a year later, he asked me if I’d be interested in shooting in a jail because he knew someone who had just purchased a decommissioned county jail and had yet to alter it. I spoke with the owner on the phone and spent the next day in the empty jail alone.

The final series consists of ten photographs. Seven prints are fifteen inches square, the actual size that would fit in the outlines painted on the walls to delineate the space each inmate was given by the institution for their personal effects and imagery. Three of the larger (30x24" or 24x30") spaces, the inmates took for themselves to express subjectivity. More images from the series can be seen on my website.

I liked it when my friend Jane said that in my Personal Affect Squares she sees both Malevich and an emotional connection to incarceration, a combination she has never conceived of or experienced before.


Katrina Umber, Personal Affect Square


Katrina Umber, Personal Affect Square


Katrina Umber, Personal Affect Square

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About Author

Katrina Umber is BR&S artist in residence for June 2013.

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