Review Santa Fe: Jay Muhlin

Review Santa Fe participant Jay Muhlin is a Philadelphia photographer with a focus on artist books. His work explores themes of loss, intimacy, comfort, anxiety, and masculinity. What
results are multivalent narratives, visual threads that not only “define his subjects with empathy,
but also seek emotional truth.”

Jay received a BFA in Photography from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts  and recently completed his MFA in Transmedia/Art Photography at Syracuse University. His work has appeared in various editorial publications worldwide and he has recently completed residencies at the
Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester NY, The Millay Colony for the Arts in
Austerlitz, NY and at Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside in Troy NY.
Jay teaches courses at Syracuse University, Salem Community College and
was a visiting faculty member at Bennington College in 2011.

 His current project, a book titled Guilty Pleasures, looks at finding comfort during winter. The images speak through visual pun and metaphor. Muhlin often takes diaristic liberties and embraces serendipity, building images that refer to something other than what is named or described in the frame: something intangible such as longing, intimacy, and solitude. Strung together are lists of simple comforts and tactile groupings which all contrast with the harshness that winter serves. 

Relief is offered through humor as it transforms coping into a joy that makes moving forward more meaningful. When this work is exhibited Muhlin uses an installation format, creating a quasidomestic space. Images are hung salon style in gaudy white frames with numerous different dimensions. The artist’s couch is available for sitting and viewing his book dummy, draped with a quilt embroidered with a wintery image from the project. Greeting cards, newspapers, and balloons- all ephemera to be given away, distributed, disturbed, or forgotten.