It's a rare occurrence when, without planning, artists from two markedly different backgrounds produce work that speaks quietly to each other, connecting with viewers in a linked visual language. But that’s exactly the case with Cleveland Print Room’s American Playgrounds & Model Homes exhibit, featuring the photographs of Clevelander Da’Shaunae Marisa Jackson and Dayton’s Juan-Si Gonzalez, a native Cuban.
The exhibit opens Jan. 10, marking the seventh anniversary year for the photography cooperative in the Superior Arts District. At large, the selections explore Jackson’s concept of how architecture can reflect the individuality of its inhabitants and Gonzalez’s exploration of deserted spaces as psychological and cultural geography — both reflecting humans’ relationship with American spaces without photographing the Americans themselves.
“The way that their work is different from each other still complements each other,” says Print Room managing director Emilie Molkentin. “Da’Shaunae’s is darker, a bit more mysterious, while Juan’s is more colorful, but still off-putting in some way. [The photos] are all of fairly familiar, but still unknown kinds of places.” We talked to both photographers about what inspired their work.
CM: How does your work complement Juan-Si Gonzalez’s photos?
DJ: When I first looked at Juan’s work, it seemed very similar. He comes from a much different background, but we still see some of the same things. The shapes and forms pair well together. Both capture quiet moments.
CM: Your photos are taken of people’s homes at night, lending them an aura of mystery. Why shoot then?
DJ: I hope viewers will think of the stories of who might be inside. The whole street will be dark, but a light on the inside can bring a house to life. Some of them may seem mysterious, or they can feel very homey.
CM: Why did you choose Cleveland suburbs for your photos?
DJ: Cleveland has a very diverse style of architecture and that has always been very interesting to me. I always try to relate to the history of each suburb, each style of home.