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Statements and Images
Julie Blackmon
Ben Gest
Jessica Todd Harper
Amy Montali
Sage Sohier
Essay from In the Loupe
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Northampton, MA

Amy Montali’s enigmatic, large-format color works reveal traces of Montali’s background working in film, theater, and dance. Montali works regularly with small groups of friends and acquaintances that function essentially as a repertory company. In creating her scenes, Montali “paints” her compositions with large swaths of bold color, further enhancing psychological moments and interactions. In her work, she aims for narrative ambiguity and open-ended situations—the photograph as receptacle—allowing the viewer to produce his or her own stories.

Born in Oakland, CA, Montali received a BA from Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), with majors in both Film Studies and Theater. She earned her MFA in photography from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston in 2004. That same year, she was one of the last fellows to go through the Photography Institute National Graduate Seminar at Columbia University (New York, NY). Several venues have featured her work, from Clifford●Smith Gallery (Boston, MA) to the Griffin Museum of Photography (Winchester, MA) to Hampshire College (Amherst, MA). Montali teaches photography at Tufts University (Medford, MA), Greenfield Community College (Greenfield, MA), and will also be teaching at Hampshire College (Amherst, MA) this winter. She continues to work as a video editor and producer for theater and dance groups throughout the Northeast.

Artist Statement

These portraits and narrative fragments are produced with a large-format view camera, which requires a slow and formal approach. However, I try to shoot spontaneously as though I am on the street or at a birthday party. I like to fuse the seductive power of studio photography with the energy and emotion of a snapshot.

The work is often collaborative and always improvisational. I choreograph scenes of varying complexity in order to explore real and fictitious relationships and to consider such subtexts as rivalry, desire, guilt, and redemption. I use the colors and shapes of my locations to illuminate and intensify, or invent, psychological states. Then, I wait for the picture.

The camera allows me to stare. In some ways content is secondary to my obsession with photography itself. I am particularly interested in how photography seduces its participants, including me, and how its power differs from that of painting, theater, or film.

- Amy Montali