ARTIST STATEMENT (in progress, 2014 – present)
MODERN DAVID is a photographic documentation of people named David. This series is to be viewed as a collection, not as a singular individual portrait but instead as a whole. MODERN DAVID explores if there is a common thread, aesthetically or otherwise, between participants other than name. Each participant was photographed in the same lighting situation, same pose, same background with normal identity cues such as clothing and accessories removed to allow viewers to examine each David in relation to the others.
With modern media skewing the perception of reality and beauty, MODERN DAVID celebrates real people in a static and straightforward way. Historical ideals and individual perception of any viewer are challenged by the series providing images of every willing participant, added together to form a sum of representation of modern individuals and real beauty.
Sociology and methodology of participants shapes the ultimate outcome of the MODERN DAVID project. All Davids (to date) have been self selected and sourced through personal referrals and social media. Strategy to expand diversity of participants may yield different outcomes, to be explored during the duration of the project. As unique individuals who have existed in society with one of the most common US names, many participants agreed to be photographed as an individual quest for documentation or validation of self. The portrait session serves as a forced self experience, an opportunity to find calm and comfort in discomfort, an experience of the present and static documentation of current self. The participants exhibit willingness to display oneself and potentially be judged with lack of control of outcome of the project.
MODERN DAVID has been exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center (IL), Freeport Art Museum (IL), Robert F. DeCaprio Gallery (IL), Mint Museum Uptown (NC). A selection of installation photos have been submitted to show the large scale of presentation of this series. Large photographic prints of participants are hung in grids, reconfigured based on the gallery space, and participants are encouraged to attend openings and “Modern David Meetups” at the exhibitions to provide an experience after initial posing and to engage with other Davids and the viewing public. For more information, please visit the Modern Dave website. .
Mariah Karson (b. 1979) is a Chicago-based artist and freelance photographer. She studied photography and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her work has been published internationally. Specializing in editorial and studio portraiture, Mariah strives to capture real people with honesty and clarity and provide memorable images that tell compelling stories.
Solo exhibitions include Modern David at the Robert F. DeCaprio Gallery in Palos Hills, IL in April 2017, and in July 2017 a solo exhibition and book release of American Legion at Firecat Projects, Chicago.
In 2017, 24 images from Modern David were included in the exhibition Gendered at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and 30 images at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the DCASE 50×50 Invitational – The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, and Possibilities. In 2016, 22 images from Modern David were included in Masculinity, a group show curated by Exhibition Projects (Chicago) at Freeport Art Museum, Freeport, IL. Other group exhibitions include Midwest Contemporary at LillStreet Art Center, Chicago, Prime at Filter Photo Festival 2017, UNBOUND3! at Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA, and Help Us Help You Help Us at Firecat Projects, Chicago.
Mariah is a recipient of a 2016 DCASE Individual Artist Grant from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, a 2016 Sponsored Artist with High Concept Labs at Mana Contemporary, Chicago, was a finalist for Photolucida’s Critical Mass 2016 & 2017, shortlisted for the 2015 Lucie Foundation’s A Photo Made Scholarship, and named one of the photographers for Best of ASMP 2015.
As a member of ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) since 2013, Mariah currently serves on the Board of Directors and as acting Treasurer for the Chicago/Midwest Chapter. As a Chair of the Chapter’s Fine Arts Committee, she organizes and executes events and exhibition opportunities for photographers in the Midwest region.