What’s in a dream?
JACOB MITCHELL is a visual artist living and working in Texas who reimagines natural spaces as dream like experiences.
We discussed his most recent, rose-tinted work, shot in Desierto de los Leones outside Mexico City, Sandia Crest in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Lake Forest Park in Denton, Texas, respectively.
Can you tell me a little about your three new series and the themes you explore in each?
Desierto de Los Leones, Altered Scapes, and Blush are all smaller series of images that make up my larger body of work. They are connected by the same themes all my work is focused on, which is transforming natural spaces into projections of dream like experiences.
Dreams are something most of us have every night, a window into something deeper, beyond the physical and visible realm. These dreams connect all of us and make up the fabric of our collective unconscious and subconscious. I’m trying to broaden the conscious mind, challenge and inspire the audience to think critically and differently about their own self-awareness.
More specifically, the series are broken up into the groups based on geography. Each series was taken in very specific locations. Blush was photographed in Denton, Texas in and around Lake Forest Park. Altered Scapes was photographed at Sandia Crest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Desierto de los Leones was photographed at a national park of the same name in Mexico City, Mexico. I felt the series were best separated because they all look so uniquely different from one another due to the native landscapes. I also like to envision my photographs almost as timelines, each one informing the next and slowly building a much larger context for the audience to place their selves in.
“I also like to envision my photographs almost as timelines, each one informing the next and slowly building a much larger context for the audience to place their selves in.”
How do you think your work have evolved in the past few years?
The ideas have become a bit more defined, it’s hard at first to look at or attempt to visualize something as abstract as the unconscious or subconscious. I was working so hard on trying to make a physical and visual connection at first, and I think it shows in some of those older series. Now I am working and thinking more reactively than I was before, I have benefited greatly from it and I think it gives the photographs a chance to be interpreted in a variety of ways and allows them to exist in multiple versions.
What camera did you first start with and what do you currently use?
My first digital camera was a Canon Rebel XT, I now shoot with a Canon 6D. The jump to full frame allows me to work at a much larger scale in print, and that’s really important to me. These photographs range in scale but I have some that will only work on a large scale.
I really like how you’ve been using the color pink in your work. What inspired that?
It’s a reference to that rose-tinted view we see of dreams in film, television, etc. I just tweaked it a little to fit my aesthetic purposes more. I’m experimenting with other colors in the work as well, but they are all meant to make you second-guess what you are seeing. The color takes several hours of manipulating, but for the most part I want it to look equally unnatural and natural.
Do you have a process for how you select one of your outdoor locations?
I travel a lot so I always try my hardest to get out for some shooting when I am on the road or abroad. To answer more directly, I love untamed, unique looking landscapes, places with history, but I also try to find the extraordinary in and around my everyday spaces. Desierto de los Leones is a forest in the mountains outside Mexico City with an old empty convent tucked away in the trees. That is a magical place that begs to be photographed. In contrast, Blush was shot in Lake Forest Park, which is where I take my dog hiking every weekend. So it really comes down to how a place makes me feel.
“Desierto de los Leones is a forest in the mountains outside Mexico City with an old empty convent tucked away in the trees. That is a magical place that begs to be photographed. In contrast, Blush was shot in Lake Forest Park, which is where I take my dog hiking every weekend. So it really comes down to how a place makes me feel.“
As you develop as an artist, are there new places you want to take your ideas?
I dabbled with moving images, and short video pieces in school, some of them are on my website. I’d love to work more on translating my ideas to video or something to that effect. I am also interested in installations. I think some of the ideas and elements in my work could become more immersive. But really as long as my ideas and my work continue to evolve I will be thrilled.
Whats your creative community like? Who among your peers inspires you?
Having a group to throw ideas around with, show images too, and just talk to, is so valuable. I got lucky in that I have a pretty diverse group of creative friends from musicians to designers to filmmakers. They all inspire me and give me the drive to continue making work. Zac Travis is a photographer studying at University of New Mexico for his MFA in photography; he’s a huge inspiration and supporter of my work. Thomas Hatfield is an incredible designer he works in Denton. Stephen Petrey is another designer with a disgusting amount of skill and charisma. Gussan Jalil is a photographer/mad scientist who makes images by electrocuting film. Molly Shigemoto is another photographer I went through the program with who hand sews patterns in photographs. Her work is amazing, and particularly potent in the current political climate. These are all important people to me who inspire, critique, praise, and support everything I make.