Music From a Farther Room

PhotographerJennifer McClure
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

These photos are from a series of self-portraits and still lifes exploring a personal search for meaning while feeling no sense of history or future.


"Music From a Farther Room" For many years, I was in love with a man who was not in love with me. I refused to see this simple truth. I clung on to hope like a sailor to a piece of shipwreck. I didn’t talk about my feelings, because I knew the truth would upset my fragile balance of delusion. Our arrangement worked only if we never went too deep. Eventually I realized that this semblance of a relationship was masking a loneliness that was bigger than I had ever imagined. I didn’t start out in the world with a strong bond to my family, and I haven’t done anything to create that for myself. We moved frequently when I was a child, so I have no hometown or sense of place. I worry that I will drift through this life, unremarkable and unattached. The present seems to slip through my fingers, as I obsess over the future and untie the knots of the past. While I struggled with whether or not I should say something to this man, I began photographing myself in water. I love the water but I am afraid of it. I feel the same way about people; I am fascinated but only from a safe distance. Water constantly changes and has the power to soothe, sustain or destroy. I’m drawn to it but I don’t know how to be in it. And so the question grew beyond the scope of a yes or no answer from one person. I began searching for signs of successful connections and missed opportunities, trying to piece together a map of how to be. I never found any answers. I am afraid and insecure and I get lost in the questions, but at least in that I am not alone.

About Photographer

Jennifer McClure is a fine art and documentary photographer based in New York City. She uses the camera to ask and answer questions. Most importantly, she wants to know why anyone ever gets out of bed in the morning. Jennifer turned the camera on herself after a long illness limited her access to other people. The self-portraits have become for her a way to stay in one piece, a way to be able to collect herself. She is interested in appearances and absences, short stories, poetry, and movies without happy endings. Jennifer was born in Virginia and raised all over the Southeast. The child of a Marine, she moved frequently and traumatically. She decorated her walls with traces of her past. After acquiring a B.A. in English Theory and Literature, Jennifer began a long career in restaurants. She returned to photography in 2001, taking classes at the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography. Her work has been included in several group shows and online publications, and she was recently awarded CENTER’s Editor’s Choice by Susan White of Vanity Fair.