January 2016 Artist in Residence: Clarissa Bonet

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We are Happy to welcome our first artist in residence of the year!

Clarissa Bonet (b. 1986 ) Lives and works in Chicago.  Her current work explores aspects of the urban space in both a physical and psychological context.  She received her M.F.A. in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2012, and her B.S. in Photography from the University of Central Florida. Her work has been exhibited nationally, internationally, and resides in the collections of The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s MPP collection, The South East Museum of Photography, and The Haggerty Museum. Her work has been featured on CNN Photos, The Wall Street Journal, The Eye of Photography, and many other notable online and print publications. She has received recognition and support for her work from the Albert P Weisman Foundation and the Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. More recently, she was chosen as one of PDN’s 30 2015 new and emerging photographers to watch.

We asked Clarissa to share a little bit about her practice and plans for her residency here at LATITUDE.


How has your relationship with image making in the urban environment changed over time?

My relationship with the urban space is constantly shifting, just like the environment itself. I try to be as aware of my surroundings and free from distractions as I move through the surface of the city, which allows for new discoveries -- and ultimately drives the images that I make. When I first moved to Chicago I was overwhelmed and intimidated by the environment and I think my my early images reflected that. Now that I am more accustomed to the environment and the ever-evolving nature of this place, I am more intrigued by the unknown, which is reflected in my new work.

Your Stray Light series takes on a literal, and perhaps symbolic, distance from the human figure as compared to your other series. Could you speak a little to the idea of traces and markers of humanity in urban spaces and how the move to this series is influenced by your previous work?

I’ve always been interested in the unknown other individual operating within my space. My project City Space really speaks to that in a concrete way. As I was making the City Space work I would often think about the structure of the city in contrast to the individual. But there was this shift in my perception of the city when night fell. In the stark light of the day the buildings appear a unified front, revealing physical beauty, dominating the environment. As the sun goes the city is transformed, allowing a glimpse into the life that resides inside. The windows act as a beacon, alluding to the life.

This idea of hinting as to the presence of an individual without one physically being present is something I started to embrace. I was fascinated by the many ways individuals leave behind traces of themselves throughout the city, whether it be intentional mark-making like graffiti or the unintentional, like the light emanating through a window, or gum on the sidewalk. Once I acknowledged their presence, I started to see this everywhere, and this in turn inspired some of the newer images from my City Space series as well.

What are you most excited to complete during your residency at LATITUDE?

For the past five years I have focused on making work in Chicago, but this year I expanded my practice nationally, to Los Angeles and New York City, for my stray Light project. By focusing on these three major metropolitan areas in the U.S., Stray Light speaks to the ever growing urban population and experience of life in our cities. Over the course of the year, I have made thousands of photographs for the project, building up my archive that I will pull from to create the Stray Light work. I’m looking forward to having the time to cull through all my imagery and start constructing new pieces for the project.