Suellen Parker's work, included in the Aperture exhibition and book, reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, combines photography and digital technology equally, as part of an elaborate artistic process that starts with sculpture. Parker first sculpts a figure from a malleable clay that can be repositioned over time. Under studio lights, she photographs the figure; Parker then turns to living-and-breathing models, photographing their physical features. Next is a dance of digital manipulation: with almost painterly precision, she adds backgrounds, clothes, and objects from other photographs she has made of walls, floors, and environments relevant to the concept of the image or the personality of her character, giving her "subjects" not only a "set," but a context: "I bring the character to life by painting skin tones onto gray sculpture, enhancing contours and shading with highlights." Finally, a sequence of images of eyes and lips from the models is morphed on to that of Parker's new, exquisite creation.
Awkward Stage is from the Incurable series, in which the artist invented stories that examine the themes of beauty and those who chase it. Each image explores how we choose to physically create and present ourselves based on internal ideals that are acquired over time, ideals influenced by peers, family, and the daily barrage of imagery from the media and other sources. In Parker's work, we see characters who try, like real human beings, to make their bodies look perfect and desirable, fighting against the contradictions that exist between the ideal and physical reality. It is within this struggle that they find their humanity.
Suellen Parker's (born in 1972) work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and other publications, and been exhibited nationally and internationally. Her photographs can be found in the collections of the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland, The Sir Elton John Collection, and King & Spaulding. Parker received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.