Born in Vermont, Jessica Tampas creates engaging work, mined from time with family and with possessions that define play. I met her last year, at the Filter Festival Portfolio walk and this year was so glad to discover her new work and get to revisit the older projects. I am featuring two series, Dolls and Michigan. Jessica earned a BFA from Simmons College in Boston and an MFA in Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art. After teaching photography in Holland for Emerson College, she relocated to Chicago where she works as a family, candid, and fine art photographer.
the history behind these dolls. Who were their previous owners? How did they
come to look the way they do? Do I collect them, alter them? My approach to
creating this series is far more subjective. I never set out to become a
collector, per se (though by now I’ve amassed more than 100 early- and
mid-century dolls), and I don’t alter them in any way. Frankly, I’m not so concerned
with these dolls’ history, even if I play an important role in it, giving them
a longevity they probably never expected to have. For me these little beings
are simply heartbreaking creatures, typologies of survival and loss, and, I
suppose, ultimately, psychological portraits of something inside myself that I
might not otherwise be able to express as an adult. We have all weathered
emotional traumas in the transition from childhood to now. By not altering the
dolls, I let their faces tell their own story — one that I feel is ultimately
about what it means to be both fragile and a survivor, and…human.
been taking photographs since I was 14 years old. My favorite subjects were my immediate family. I went on to get an MFA in 1987 and
then spent the next 20 years as a portrait and wedding photographer. The birth of my son in 2006 was a major
turning point in my life and my career.
Instead of documenting other people’s lives, I began to focus on my son
and his world, inspired by the work of both Diane Arbus and Sally Mann. I am grateful that, once again, I can
create images that are meaningful and personal, yet hopefully universal.