Blurring the lines of photography and art

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Joel Hall


From sarcastic self-portraits, to views of the inevitable zombie apocalypse, Jason Morrison's photos push lovers of traditional photography outside of their comfort zone.

Morrison, Arts Clayton's 2009 Juried Photography Show "Best of Show" winner, says he wouldn't have it any other way.

Thirty-eight pieces of Morrison's best work will hang at the Arts Clayton gallery from now, until July 30, in a new exhibit entitled, "Untitled. Unthemed. UnCatalogued: Artwork by Jason Morrison."

Morrison's edgy photos, he says, are influenced by his background in graphic design. In addition to being the co-owner of JayMar Photography in McDonough, Morrison also serves as Henry County's communications designer, managing the look and feel of the county's outgoing communications vehicles, its newsletter, and its web site.

"I was always more into digital art, and working with the computer," Morrison says. "It got to the point where I wanted to take my own photos to work with, as opposed to working with other people's photos. Since I was already digital, I thought getting a digital camera would be the next big step."

Morrison's show includes a combination of natural, staged, and digitally-altered photography, some pieces crossing over from plain photography to art.

"Mary," is a staged portrait of a strong, bandana-wearing woman, similar to the iconic image of "Rosie the Riveter," while his piece, "Jump, Jump, Jump, Jump," uses time-lapse photography to show different views of Morrison's 3-year-old daughter, jumping up and down, despite her bandaged knee.

Other digitally-altered photos in his exhibit stray into the field of the bizarre, often using the photographer as the central source of satire. "Not Tonight Honey, I Have a Headache," shows a beer-swilling caricature of Morrison, in bed with a mud-mask-and-hair-roller-wearing version of himself. Other photos show Morrison with a shotgun, and a gas mask, preparing to slay zombies, or posing for a jail mugshot in drag-queen makeup.

"With JayMar photography, or even my personal stuff, it's about getting as creative as you can," Morrison says. "A lot of stuff I do, I don't really label as photography, because some of it crosses the line of digital art. Some of the work I want to create, you can't just do it with a camera. I have staged a lot of pictures where they might not make sense when I take them, but that was just the first part of the final image."

Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers describes Morrison's photography as "brave" and says the photos display a high level of both artistic and technical skill.

"He takes some fantastic artistic challenges," says Powers. "He pushes the envelop, both when he is doing things that are traditional, and that go into the realm of digital art. It's things that are cerebral and make you think, to things that are irreverent and funny. You can see in his work that he is really a student, both from a technical and artistic side."

Morrison says he wants people to feel something when they see his photos, and that, sometimes, hitting them "with a sledgehammer," as opposed to "tapping them on the shoulder," is the best approach.

"It's something that you may not see everyday in a gallery around here," he says. "It's not a waterfall, a butterfly, or a flower. Not that those are bad, but when I take pictures of waterfalls and butterflies, nobody looks at them ... These photos make people stop and think."

For more information about Arts Clayton and Morrison's exhibit, call (770) 473-5457, or visit www.artsclayton.org. For more of Morrison's photography, visit www.jason-morrison.com.