About the Photographer
Jachna, Joseph D.
American, b. 1935
Born in Chicago in 1935, Joseph Jachna attended the renowned Institute of Design (ID), earning a BS in art education (1958) and later an MS in photography (1961). As a graduate student Jachna studied with both Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, and their influence is evident in many of his black and white photographs, particularly those in which he portrays the landscape as an abstracted composition with a graphic impact or a refined sense of formal order. Nevertheless, Jachna pursued a number of distinctive interests of his own throughout his career, both in terms of subject matter and experiments with form.
For three years while enrolled at the ID, Jachna worked on an in-depth study of water, and he has returned to this theme at various times since then. In the late 1960s and 70s, for example, Jachna made a number of meditative, atmospheric photographs of black expanses of water or the motion of river currents. In other cases, as in his images of snow next to open water or ice, a tightly framed composition makes for pronounced juxtapositions of light and dark shapes.
In a substantial body of work created in Door County, Wisconsin, Jachna takes a more idiosyncratic direction. Using held-held mirrors to disrupt the photograph's depiction of a landscape, Jachna inserts his own body into the image or uses the mirror's reflection and the camera's lens to elegantly rearrange the natural environment into a view unavailable to the naked eye. While these images are often highly formal, they also touch on ideas ranging from the relationship of man and nature to the ways in which the camera mediates how we see. Jachna taught alongside Siskind at the Institute of Design from 1961 until 1969, at which point he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is currently a professor emeritus.