Haley Jane Samuelson has enjoyed the kind of postgraduate career that most photo students dream about. Less than a year after getting her Master of Fine Arts in Photography at Parsons, she already had her first solo show at Hous Projects, the Soho gallery that represents her. The gallery discovered her through the exhibition catalog from her thesis show at Parsons. “The master’s program has been very beneficial for me,” she says. “It was challenging, but it made me understand who I was as an artist.”
When Samuelson arrived at Parsons, her technical knowledge and aesthetic sensibility were already in place. She had a BA in Fine Arts from Ringling University in Florida, where she was exposed to illustration, computer animation, and figurative painting— influences that still define her work. “I went to Parsons because I didn’t know what my work was about or why I was making it. As I struggled through that process of discovery, I realized what I wanted to say through my images. It’s about intimacy and relationships, defining myself as individual and coming to terms with being a young woman in this particular period of time,” she reveals.
The majority of Samuelson’s polished and somewhat surreal photographs are self-portraits, although you might not realize it immediately. Her body and face seem to morph into the different settings, as if she were a prop in the picture rather than a subject. “I don’t want people to see the work as autobiographical,” she explains. “I’m using my body as a tool to represent an ‘everywoman’ character. I’m depicting a universal state of being.”