Juliet van Otteren’s first passions were dance and riding her horses bareback across the countryside. As an adult she studied various philosophical disciplines and lived for a number of years in the Middle East and the Himalayas, where she first explored portrait photography.
During the 80’s Juliet worked in Manhattan as a photographer, but seeking a more peaceful environment to pursue her artwork, chose in 1989 to move to the English countryside. Almost as soon as she arrived, the National Portrait Gallery in London began to acquire her work and within a year Juliet created precedent law by becoming the first photographer ever to be granted an artist’s working visa to the U.K.
For the next ten years Juliet created her art in England and in France, finally returning to live in the USA in the late 90’s. Today Juliet continues to travel the world creating unique images that are housed in the collections of major museums on three continents.
Juliet’s photography book, Heart of the Horse, was published by Barnes & Noble in 2004. She is currently working on a book of Great Thinkers and Writers. Juliet has been included in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Women since 2005.
A Vision Statement
“Where the Spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” – Leonardo da Vinci
So too, where the spirit does not see through the eye, there is no art. To see in an unobstructed way, free of expectations, undistorted by one’s own projections, and liberated from the consensus reality is, I believe, is my primary task as an artist; otherwise my work would not be my own creation. What we see is radically conditioned by acquired habits. We’re presented today, as never before, with a flood of ready made images which are to the eye what prejudice is to the mind or junk-food is to the palate: We’re so bombarded by invasive sensations that the raw nerve-ends of our response have become novacained. Thus, in my work I strive for a visual impact that will arrest the gaze of the viewer, an impact that will help them resist the reflexive eyes’-glance off the surface of the image. If I can hold their gaze and entice them to look, there’s a chance some of the subtlety of composition, tones, shades, surfaces and contours can speak with the foreground image – can take hold of the viewer’s inner life and help them to see what might otherwise have been missed. I see my art, in this light, as an attempt to liberate the familiar. I don’t however view my photographic work as a mere transcription of reality or slices of reality, no matter how engaging I find the image to be. As Klee put it, “art does not reproduce the visible, but makes visible.” In this spirit, I strive in my work to point through the visible form into what is not readily perceptible, the universally human. I see my art as the creation of images compelling enough in their power to invite and invoke that connectedness which slumbers in the deepest recesses of our being – images which can draw us deeper in participation with the universally human. My responsibility as an artist-photographer is to open up something beyond the form, through the juxtaposition of light and dark, form and movement, statement and silence, that reveals the essence, the multi-dimensional of the greater whole. Thus, the many aspects that lie behind the face of each complex human being can only emerge through the co-creative interplay of the subject and the photographer/artist as catalyst.
My chosen medium of expression is light. In my black and white work I use the camera to capture the variations and contrasts of lightness and darkness emanating from my compositions. Then in the darkroom I paint with my hands, using the full palate of whites, grays and blacks that are my means of expression. My hands work in balance between my emotional intuitive self and my intellectual, logical mind. This precarious equilibrium, ruled by my ever-changing sensibilities, ensures the originality of each print. My color photography is the natural progression of my vision as it extends itself into nature and inanimate objects. It is my representation of the energy and emotionality that I perceive emanating from these objects. A juxtaposition of the seen and the unseen, expressed as large color prints.
I believe that my images express an awakening from the dark minimalism of yesterday and are the enunciation of the spiritual inner expansion of tomorrow. Not art for arts sake, but art for the upliftment of the human spirit.
Juliet van Otteren