Justine Reyes lives and works in New York. In 2004 she received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute after getting her BFA from Syracuse University in 2000. Reyes has exhibited her art in the United States and internationally. She has participated in Proyecto Circo at the 8th Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba and took part in Contemporary Istanbul in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2007 images from Reyes’ series Away From Home were included in The Feminine Mystique, at the Jersey City Museum. Recently Reyes was an artist in residence at the Center for Photography in Woodstock (NY) and was awarded the Individual Artist Initiative (IAI) from the Queens Council on the Arts.
Home, Away from Home draws on images from two bodies of work, “Home” and “Away from Home.” Ms. Reyes spent the past six years photographing her immediate family – her mother and two uncles. This series pairs their portraits with views of empty interior spaces in the house where they all live. In many of the photographs where the figures of her family are physically present a lonely emptiness and unease hovers, often more insistantly than in the vacant spaces. The family is seen engaging in the everyday activities of cleaning, eating, watching TV, doing nothing in particular. The viewer is forced to adopt Reyes’ vision, incorporating the artist’s own fears of losing her family and trying to capture the moments slipping by with increasing speed as they get older. Ms. Reyes’ beautifully sad photographs focus on age, aging, loneliness and isolation, and the fragility of life and family bonds through her stark depictions of details such as her uncle’s broken nose.
Home follows the series, “My Uncle Vinnie” (2005), the image of the empty bedroom representing Uncle Vinnie and his absence. After Uncle Vinnie’s death Ms. Reyes took numerous trips with her family. Away from Home documents the hotel rooms that became grand stages for dramas that never quite unfold. She focuses on the subtle underlying tension created by dislocation. By staging her family in foreign spaces, costumed to have the look and feel of domestic comfort, Ms. Reyes begins to draw relationships between “Home” and “Away from Home”, both literally and metaphorically, as if Ms. Reyes is preparing herself for her family’s journey to the after life through depictions of anxiety and confliction. The images convey no sense of time or place, but only that there is a journey and that the journey requires preparation.