Meditating upon the oxymoron of the "still-life" genre, Whaley's photographs capture the dissonance between the real and the artificial. Still-life, or, quite literally, "dead nature," forms the lens through which she investigates our detachment from the world and our retreat into the comforts of urbanity. The moths, butterflies and other insects she photographs are never quite more than the motley taxidermic specimens that one might find smashed and crumpled in a child's shoebox. Yet in Whaley's hands, these small and delicate objects of nature become wrapped in deep, rich and unworldly colors, and are set against an abstract background that accentuates their beauty.
Jo Whaley, born in 1953, received her B.A., M.A. and M.F.A from the University of California at Berkeley. Her solo exhibition, Natura Morta, is currently on view at the San Jose Museum through July 22. She was awarded a Visual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1994), as well as several Polaroid Corporation Artist's Grants and the San Francisco Foundation Phelan Award. Whaley has had numerous solo and group exhibitions, among them Photokina in Cologne, Germany (1992) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2000). Her work appears in several major collections in this country and abroad, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum, and the Polaroid Corporate Art Collection.