Arts & Humanities Campus News

Jim Fiscus creates stories in a single image

Jim Fiscus, “All We Are, 2/8/22, 5:49 – 6:46 p.m., Old Hwy 10 ferry crossing, looking from Pointe Coupèe Parish towards East at West Feliciana Parish,” 2022. Archival pigment print on canvas, 60 × 100 inches. Collection of the artist. (Submitted photo)

How did people find human connection during a pandemic that kept them apart from each other? Some people made art museums for their hamsters or hosted happy hour trivia on Zoom. Photographer Jim Fiscus lit out on a series of road trips in a camper with a friend. His usual bread and butter is commissioned work, but that had ground to a halt, so he left on a journey with no end point or itinerary, visiting unexpected places and getting to know strangers.

The exhibition “Where Shadows Cross,” on view at the Georgia Museum of Art through Oct. 8, shows the single-frame stories that resulted from those travels.

Fiscus’ specialty, both in his commercial and his fine-art work, is storytelling, and the 13 photographs in the exhibition feature elaborately constructed scenes that suggest complex narratives. As he drove around the country, Fiscus found places that spoke to him. He then directed real people (some of whom were the new friends he’d made on his travels) within those landscapes to craft a kind of stage set to photograph. He is the photographer, but also the producer and director, meticulously orchestrating every element that that composes the final image.

“With each shoot, I have a starting point and a plan; within this structure, I allow for things to shift and unfold in front of me without interruption, permitting the subject matter to take me to a different place creatively, a place that supports the story being told,” Fiscus said.

Once a scene is set, he captures multiple scenarios, then digitally assembles those perspectives into a single image, a sort of perfect film still of an imaginary movie. The exhibition is organized by the museum’s Parker Curator of Russian Art, Asen Kirin. Its title comes from the way Fiscus creates his images, with multiple figures and objects that cast crossing shadows.

“These shadow shapes partake in a game within each image in this body of work. Shadows are the basis of the compositions. Though they may go undetected, they are used to ground the eye or direct attention elsewhere in the frame,” Fiscus said.

Fiscus investigates seemingly mundane situations, highlighting nuanced figures doing unpredictable or unconventional things, using his arsenal of technical expertise to construct dreamlike scenarios that question our perceptions of what is real. Born in Dallas, Texas, he lives in Athens and is well-known for his award-winning advertising and editorial photography. His work is featured in the permanent collection of the Georgia Museum of Art and in numerous private collections.

“Where Shadows Cross” is sponsored by the Todd Emily Community Foundation, the Epting Family Foundation, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation Fund and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

Related events include:

  • A gallery talk with Kirin and Fiscus on July 27 at 4 p.m.
  • An artist talk by Fiscus on Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
  • 90 Carlton: Autumn, a quarterly reception celebrating exhibitions at the museum hosted by the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art, on Sept. 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with light refreshments, door prizes and more; $15 Not Yet Friends; $10 Friends of the Museum and Friend + Annual Fund Members; free for Friend + Annual Fund Members (Reciprocal level and above); register at