Stories From California

Parker Day - West Adams, CA

Something really interesting happens when a person puts on a wig. 
They let go of their inhibitions.
They let go of holding up who they think they are supposed to be. ...
They almost become more themselves.

Parker Day, Photographer


I felt a little 'grey' in my Jeans, T-Shirt and comfy sandals when I entered Parker Day's studio. She was in the process of preparing a model for a photo shoot. A hair and make up artist had just put a blonde monster-wig on the young woman and curled her hair into eccentric fierce waves. An assistant in a zebra patterned mini skirt glued unbelievably real looking fake lips to the model's face while Parker was gliding through the studio on sparkly silver high heels to check out the lightning and select some final props. 

When she started talking about her art, candy colored portraits which attract and irritate me at the same time, I understood:

Not only are these pictures - taken on 35 mm film and never, ever, NIE, NIEMALS digitally - carefully curated works of art. The concept is also layered by thoughts about and experiences with different sets of realities we live in, reflections on when we put on masks and what they do to us, and courageous experiments with how to express the darkness and the light inside of us.

That Parker Day would not become just any photographer taking wedding pictures might have been obvious when she was still a kid: she set up small tableaus with barbie dolls, action figures and Hot Wheels cars in the back yard or under indoor plants. She took pictures of those settings with a disposable camera.

By now she had solo shows with her debut series ICONS at Superchief Gallery in Los Angeles and New York. 

Parker Day is not waiting for a mysterious muse to hit her while she is lounging under palm trees. She is going to the studio almost every day, setting up photo shoots twice a week, looking for inspiration in LA's fabric district, thrift stores and on instagram. Those posing with the same smile and make up all the time will wait for a call from the photographer for ever. Those showing their inner beauty queen one day and gritty street smarts the next might be just the model Parker is looking for. Combining discipline, hard work and fun she is "setting up a trap for inspiration to come." 

Watching Parker Day's creative process and listening to her I started thinking about my own masks, borders of reality and fantasy, darkness and light within, and most of all bout how to find my own ways of expression.

Maybe it's time to put on a wig and get that juicy funny feeling! 

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