Photographer of the Week #164: Isabel Magowan

Isabel Magowan lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received a BA in History from Wesleyan University in 2011 and a MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art in 2015. Magowan trained as a child performer in her youth, where she endured the discipline of  pre-professional ballet while being treated for severe obsessive compulsive disorder. Through this formative experience, she experienced first hand the unrealistic and detrimental expectations of adolescents -where an unreachable bar for success is set, leading to harmful conceptions about self worth.

“Cygnets” explores the ways we internalize normative constructions of value, materialism and appearance and how in turn our projection of self is mediated and altered to conform to these cultural expectations. “Cygnets” meditates on the moments where innocence, in its imaginative naiveté, becomes increasingly at odds with a growing self-awareness. I want to make work that subverts our assumptions of the good life by questioning to what extent appearance and materialism can mask the reality of one’s inner turmoil.

Magowan’s vivid photographs capture tender moments in the wake of adolescence, these transitory junctions are palpable instances of self recognition and the search to find the footing in order to interact with a culture that has a particular set of expectations and norms. Magowan’s photographs convey adolescence questioning, self consciousness, vulnerability, isolation, disappointment, realization, and introspection. In a world where everything is meant to look perfect on the outside, Magowan searches for the imperfections that subvert the projected ideal.

For more of Isabel Magowan’s work, check out her website: