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  • Kary Janousek

Let me introduce myself

I have always been drawn to people that are introverted and reflective. I like a bit of mystery and leaving things open to interpretation. Perhaps that is what draws me in to look closer at a portrait, is that true of you? I have often spent an hour sifting through antique photographs, creating possible narratives for the faces that stare back at me. It is probably one of the reasons why I decided to start taking portraits myself.

I created my first image in September 2019 and have made ambrotypes every week since that day. For now, I am the only woman in the state of North Dakota who has their own wet plate studio, but there are 5 people in our state actively practicing. I am thankful to have the luxury of this creative outlet, and I am grateful for the support of fellow artists in my region.

I am often inspired by classic art and literature, and I like to put a personal spin on well-remembered paintings and stories. Exploring the inner emotional world that still lives and breathes in those tales. I enjoy blurring the line between the past and the present, and try to create pieces that will be timeless, universal, and playful.

Being the curator of an online vintage hat and fashion shop for over 8 years influences my aesthetic as well. I have found what the subject wears, or does not wear, in a portrait, often aids in translating a message to the viewer. So, incorporating a particular garment can often help bring a vision to fruition. I try my best to make careful choices in that regard. Fashion is a balance between an honest portrayal and a beautiful illusion. Which is also what a good portrait should be.

It is important to value our life as a gift, to view our fellow men and women as unique and special. While I have found connecting through imagery helpful in forging bonds and communicating, and in touching on subjects that can transcend divides, ultimately portraits are captured souls. They are a visual record of the human family. We can shape how we want to be seen and remembered.

So, maybe one day it will be my face staring out of a box of antique photographs that someone is sifting though, maybe it will be yours, but what story will your portrait tell?

-Kary Janousek


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