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story.lead_photo.caption Image courtesy Julie Blackmon Julie Blackmon's sly, whimsical photographs, like this one, titled "Weeds," seek to capture "the mythical in the ordinary."

Robert Mann Gallery in New York will present the newest exhibition from artist Julie Blackmon through the end of July at a pop-up space on the Bentonville downtown square. "Midwest Materials" is an exploration of "the mythical in the ordinary" of Blackmon's life as she and her four sisters raise children in the Ozarks in the 21st century through fictional images. The award-winning artist took a few minutes to answer these questions for 'SUP. Visit for the full interview.

Q. I find a lot of humor in the kids [in the pieces] because knowing the photos are staged, I like looking at them trying to figure out is this completely staged or were the kids messing around a bit?


‘Midwest Materials’

WHEN — On display through July 28; gallery hours Thursday-Saturday noon-8 p.m.

WHERE — 102 E. Central Ave. on the Bentonville downtown square

COST — Free to view

INFO — 212-989-7600 or

A. I think everybody does, but my best way of comparing it is when you watch a film, if you pulled it off, it doesn't feel like kids acting, it feels like good cinema. So I'm a little defensive of the word "staged." I just think it's specific to photography and kind of an old school way of seeing photography. It's made me think a lot about what we expect photography to be and what really it is, is just a medium, just like film or cinema, [or] like paint on a canvas, too. And the way I use it isn't what we have come to know from photography in its past -- that it documents something that's really happening. That's why I compare [my work] sometimes to fiction and literature; sometimes the greatest truth can come out of fiction.

Q. Another thing I felt about these photos is they could almost have been taken at any time -- they might not necessarily have been taken in 2015. They feel a bit nostalgic.

A. I think visually I am attracted to that look. But also in terms of just meaning, there's so much in my own childhood, too, growing up in the '70s and contrasting that to now and how we raise children today -- our lives today and the nostalgia we have for that time, but also the realization that we can't ever go back to that. So I'm torn -- like you're in love with this era long ago, but for God's sake, we didn't even wear seat belts back then. So there's this whole safety thing, but we also had that freedom. And so some of that chaos with the kids and no parent in sight, is a little bit more metaphorical to me, a mental state as a mother in chaos and being overwhelmed and trying to sort it all out.

-- Jocelyn Murphy

NAN What's Up on 07/06/2018

Print Headline: Two Minutes, Two Questions: Photographer Julie Blackmon

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