Category Archives: Photography

Bathroom Window

Windows have always been a recurring theme in my work. There is something about them that draws me in. I see them as tiny portraits with a soft anonymity. Outside the frame, I usually know nothing about the people who spend their time on the other side of the glass. The audience is left only to make their own judgements, form connections or experience nostalgia in whatever way behooves them.

The image below is of my own bathroom window, taken from inside the home looking out. This is a new perspective for me, most of the time I am on the outside looking in. The irony is, I equate my images of windows as anonymous portraits as I stated above.  Here it becomes a self-portrait. I see myself as the vine, and this is what the movement of my life looks like.

 

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Anti-Sexist Advertisement

My blog is traditionally a curation of my work, I also use it as a place to discuss things that concern me as a woman, an artist and a human being. Today I want to talk about sex(ism). Its rampant, despite the fact that this is 2017, sexism is everywhere. I experience it on a personal level as well as see people fall prey to it on a daily basis. I am here to tell you that we have had it. The idea of a perfect body, perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect smell, perfect image is false and absurd because we live in an imperfect world and without chaos, nature could not actually do its thing… However though this chaos comes order, and with this order comes imperfect perfection in all things.

Advertisements spread the cancer of sexism like Coca Cola sells high-fructose corn syrup. It is perpetuated with an idea of beauty that simply isn’t real and fueled by capitalism. Let me let you in on a secret, all bodies are good bodies. Period. Here is another secret, we are all human beings. We all poop, have body hair, experience pain and love and so on. Men have nipples because all babies are formed in the womb with the intention of becoming female, it’s not until later, when the sex organs develop that it is decided if those nipples will eventually become breasts. We are all feminine and we are all masculine, and however you feel the most comfortable is where you are meant to be.

In discussing body hair and advertising, here is a lesson on why and when women began shaving their armpits:

It wasn’t until 1915 that American women began shaving under their arms. The reason they did so was directly related to advertising! The sleeveless dress made its debut in the fashion world in a Harper’s Bazaar ad. Modern dancing and sleeveless dresses made objectionable hair out! And then of course, a flood of anti-armpit hair ads followed. Before long, being hairless was a thing and body hair (being human) was something to be embarrassed about. It was also was another way for marketeers to tell women how to feel about their bodies, and people got rich because of it. The idea that someone profits off of our insecurities makes me sick to my stomach, never should there be profits made on someones pain.

Lets take this a step further, what if there were no rules? What if advertising welcomed all types of people.

This is my anti-sexism advertisement.

 

 

 

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Struggle

I when choose to use myself as subject, I hope to convey a certain vulnerability that resides within the human condition. My self-portraits draw from my own personal experiences, and through an abstract approach I detach from my physical self while maintaining a tone that is emotional and narrative. I believe human emotion is the binding thread of our civilization. If you took everything else away, pain is still pain and love is still love. Someone once told me that, ‘You can’t measure pain. Its relative. We all experience it in our own way.’ Through using my physical self, I strive to use my form as a vessel to convey something beyond the physicality of the body itself.

This is struggle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting back in the swing of things…

This self-portrait was taken in my bathroom. Backlit and intentionally blurred to capture a certain ambiguity on the human form. By removing facial recognition, I intend to create an anonymity with the subject and the viewer, hoping the work acts like a reflection of the person in front of it. The idea of one half of something, two parts that make one whole fascinates me. Duality exists in all facets of human experience. I pose as a metaphor for non-binary culture, the figure in the image could be my feminine side or it could be my masculine side. It is simply one half of the human form.

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Tiny Vignettes of Life

In continuation with my series of intimate portraits of plant life, I’ve titled this piece Tiny Vignettes of Life because I feel it is important, especially in the current political climate, to hold onto ones own humanity. This photo could be a tiny vignette into any one person’s day. Maybe while doing laundry on a rainy day in November, the way the light falls on drying plant hanging in a window catches your eye, so you take note. In fact, I was doing laundry, and the light did catch my eye, but it was January in Chicago, and snow had now been replaced by rain, even thunder storms. During a time when climate change is denied,  our education system on the verge of being privatized, the very real possibility of the DAPL being constructed, our civil rights at stake; loving our neighbor and embracing our empathy as intelligent beings has never been more crucial.

In this fast changing world, holding onto the moments that make me feel human have helped manage the stress of what is potentially to come. Cooking a communal meal, observing the light and how it falls on an object, participating in good conversation, watering my plants and reading are rituals of living. What are some of your rituals? What makes you feel human?

I’m interested in what you have to say. Please send stories of your human experience to courtney@courtneypenzato.com.

 

Ting Vignettes of Life

 

 

 

 

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Loud Mouth

In response to the thirty million people whole lost their healthcare overnight and to the fifty-five million women who will no longer be able to afford birth control. Women who are no longer given the simple human right to be in control of our own fucking bodies. The only thing that truly belongs to us, nothing was ever promised. We were never entitled to anything, other than what we were born with. Skin. Thats all. Skin. If we aren’t allowed to be the boss over our own bodies, then what can we control? In a time when abortions are next to illegal, overpopulation and a limited resource epidemic, climate change; more women are left without access to birth control?!  When you think about it, they are telling us that we aren’t allowed to decide whether or not we want children, suppressing our libido and keeping us in check. It is a mans world after all. We all better behave. To live in a country whose leaders don’t care about the safety and wellbeing of other people, says a lot about the place. It is clear that according to the current political structure, and perhaps for previous political structures, humanity is expendable.

Recently, I have begun taking self-portraits again. My self-portraits usually obscure my face, blur my features and fall somewhere in-between abstraction and narrative. In talking about gender without actually portraying gender, the conversation becomes about the neutrality of gender itself. Gender roles are learned behaviors, we don’t come out of the womb “knowing how to sew” if we are born with female genitalia. The same goes for people born with male genitalia, the genitals you’re born with don’t determine your gender either. Sometimes the universe gets it wrong. I always attempt to encompass my feminine and masculine energy into my self-portraits, because both are equally important.

In a culture where they tell you that exercising your freedom of speech is unlawful, be loud. Scream if you must, stand up and demand human rights. As a woman, living in a patriarchal society, where men tell me what to do with my body, determine how much money I make, what I should be doing with my life, whether or not I should bear children, get married etc, its important for me be bold, daring and unapologetic.

This is my loud mouth.

 

Loud Mouth

 

 

 

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Like Water

I did quite a bit of hiking this past summer. My camera and my journal were always present, sometimes I had company and sometimes not. I never thought of myself as a “landscape photographer”, but I’m sure other photographers can attest that being in the presence of nature, its hard not to capture its beauty on camera. It became my meditation, the pressure of telling the story became nonexistent. I was simply documenting the majesty of my surroundings, which I do no matter what. In nature, it was different.

The passing of 2016 got me thinking about water. There has been a lot of drama surrounding water in this past year. It is imperative to our survival here on Earth, and without it we perish. Water is persistent and steady. Its patient and moves at its own pace. It can be fierce and powerful, calming and healing.

Lets all be like water in 2017. Be steady, persistent with our goals; patient and learn from failures and mistakes. Be fierce, use the power we all possess in healthy and effective ways to ignite change and spread positivity. Stand up for whats right, knowing that it won’t be popular. Breathe life into all that you do, and everyone you know. Be love and be light.

Be like water.

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Wilted in Sunlight

This is my first blog post since August, its rather incredible to acknowledge how disconnected I have become to my work. Its intimidating in the sense of not remembering how to begin again. But really, all you have to do is begin. Its a similar feeling when I complete a photo project, afterwards I feel this sense of loss, a void is present for some time. Then I remember to go out and photograph something, anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, and that reassurance is there and I am reminded of why I choose to use a camera as my artistic tool.

Needless to say, 2016 beat me up a bit. I have accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself; I moved back to Chicago. I didn’t share the ride with anyone. I spent three days in my car alone with my radio, and crossed Illinois state lines on my birthday, which was pretty great. I reached a goal and upgraded my camera equipment. I also grieved with the rest of the world over Standing Rock, a Trump election, Aleppo, ISIS, the most farcical election season of my life, just to name a few, however, I am grateful for the growth and experience this year has offered me. I feel like a wilted plant sitting in a windowsill of sunshine. Beaten, bruised, aged, yet basking in the harsh light of the world.

 

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Framing Spaces

For those of you who know me, know that I tend to wear many hats. For those of you that might not know me as well as some of the many people in my life, may not know all of the different types of hats I wear.

My artwork is what drives me, transforming a feeling, a persona, an object or a moment into something tangible is exhilarating. Feeling like I have the ability to stop time, every time I press the shutter, is like being part of  a secret club. This remains true even when I frame a space. With proper light and the right lens, I have the ability to transform a room, highlighting what makes the space special, and why someone would want to live there.  Some of you may already know that do architectural photography for both commercial and residential real estate; one of the many hats I wear daily. For those of you that don’t, here are the images from my most recent session. This is a two bedroom unit, located in the new development on Milwaukee, just west of Damen.

I am currently accepting new clients. In addition to that, all new clientele will receive a 50 percent discounted rate for their first session! If you or anyone you know is in need of a real estate photographer please send them to my website www.courtneypenzato.com, or reach out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/courtneypenz.

Have a great day everyone!

 

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Scream Silent

Two months without a post, I feel like thats the longest I’ve ever gone. I have been shooting a lot of photographs over the last two months, compiling a body of work for this new direction  I fell into, sort of by accident, which does not surprise me. I’ve fallen into a lot of things, seemingly by accident in my life. I will begin posting the images I’ve been shooting after I complete this post. I have been absolutely loving it. I am ready to take the work to the next step, and I plan on telling you all about it.

Despite my connection to the new body of work, I have felt an immense disconnection to the world in which I inhabit. The state of affairs is frightening and maddening at the same time. It’s devastating and absurd. I want to reach out to fellow human beings and say, “Why are you so fucking angry?” all the while I sit here biting my fingers and furrowing my brow, in disgust at the motivation behind such atrocities. The ignorance behind it all, the willful ignorance is enough to make me vomit. My heart has broke many times as of late. I wake up, and scream silently into my pillow, in hopes to meet catharsis for breakfast, before I go about my day.

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