Jennifer Leigh Wright Song

Patient Series and Current Art Practice

*All work is shot with black and white film, color negative film or color transparency film. 

Stories of trauma and mental illness were not uncommon to me growing up. My father was a psychiatrist, specializing in the treatment of severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and sociopathy. My family dealt with stalking, threats and harassment from psychiatric patients on a regular basis. I have been working on my Patient Series for several years and have begun reenacting and documenting memories of several different psychiatric patients.

My photographic series, Patient Series, is a visual response to a story I heard during my childhood about my father’s psychiatric patient who amputated her leg after experiencing a tingling sensation in it for several years. Frustrated that doctors did not believe her, she decided to solve the problem herself. The patient studied medical textbooks, collected tools, rented a hotel room and successfully amputated her own leg. A hotel employee found her and she was taken to the hospital. She survived.

Images Patient Study #1 through Patient Study #8 are reenactments of that story. I always felt that if this woman was capable of causing such harm to her own body and survived, then she was capable of causing the same harm to others, including me. I wanted to better understand the patient's motivation for hurting herself. I speculate that the patient actually experienced euphoria once she was free of the unwanted sensation. This possibility of relief has been comforting for me.

I returned to Baltimore, MD after earning my MFA in Fine Art Photography in May of 2012. I taught photography at Maryland Institute College of Art for three years. I currently live and work in Northern California.

Much of my artwork references feminist film theory, horror films, and childhood memories. My work is mixed media and performance based, and I enjoy learning new artistic media on a regular basis. I continue working on my Patient Series and I have collaborated with performance artists and photographers such as, Emilia Pennanen and Alana Clarke. My research and visual art practice questions why America remains in a state of hegemonic masculinity. I am interested in the use of bodily fluids within artwork as a means of emancipation. I am currently engaged in the writings of Julia Kristeva and theorists, such as Rosemary Betterton and Georges Bataille. My research explores beautified and idealized depictions of women throughout art history and in visual culture.