Jane Fulton Alt
(American, b. 1951, resides in Evanston, IL)
Jane Fulton Alt has been a clinical social worker for thirty-five years and has been making photographs for over eighteen. In her recent series The Treatment Room, Alt draws her two practices together. Photographing in her own office and in others throughout Chicago, she uses the camera to explore the spaces of psychiatric treatment and how they inform the dynamics of these intimate, but professionalized interactions. In her photographs we never get a full view of the people in them, who are effectively cropped out of the scene by the edge of the camera’s frame—we may see a psychiatrist’s hand on a sofa or a patient’s crossed legs, but never their faces. These compositional choices reflect the privacy of the patient-doctor relationship but they also prompt us to imagine who these people might be and redirect our attention to the setting itself. “The office,” Alt writes, “as a site for many dramas, functions as an empty stage waiting for its players. Behind closed doors I release the shutter, providing visual access to a world veiled in privacy.” Many of Alt’s photographs center on an empty sofa, shelves full of reference books, or the comforting box of tissues. In other images she highlights the tools of the trade, such as the psychiatrist’s notebook or the ever-present clock on the desk.
After completing degrees for social work, Jane Fulton Alt studied photography at Evanston Art Center, Columbia College Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute Chicago. Alt has been included in exhibitions at DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago; New Orleans Museum of Art; Houston Center for Photography; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; WALLSPACE, Ottawa, Ontario, and other venues. Her work is held in public collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; New Orleans Museum of Art; DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago; Center for Photography at Woodstock, New York; and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.
The heart is a metaphor for life and love. These photographs are about all of our hearts. They reflect my interest in the mystery of the life force, the search for what is true and lasting. I’m trying to get to the essence of what it means to be human. – Jane Fulton Alt
Jane Fulton Alt’s photographs, from her series Matters of the Heart, suggest a universal human experience that transcends cultures and continents. Linking vitality and decay, her works combine the almost violent image of the heart and a sense of serenity and calm. In this collection, Alt attempts to draw our society back to the natural world, fearing that we have lost touch with our links to nature and the life cycle.