Chloe Meynier, an alumna of and instructor in Academy of Art University’s photography school, recently won gold and silver awards in two categories at the PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris competition. Her image series, titled “Made in the Shade,” pictures herself as female characters in mid-century modern settings.
In each image, styled and lit to evoke a bygone era, the female subjects’ faces are turned away from the camera. One character sits on a couch; another stares at artwork, stands at a piano.
Meynier studied psychology in her native France, earning her doctorate. Now, she’s turning inward—looking at herself through photographic self-portraits.
“Made in the Shade” considers women’s roles during a particular time in history. Meynier observes that women who entered the workforce during World War II were thrown back into more passive roles in the domestic sphere after the war.
“It was interesting that they went from doing many things during the war … to ‘men are back and now you’re going to go back to a family-oriented [role]. You’re a woman, you should care for the children, cook dinner for your husband,’” Meynier explains.
“It’s very interesting to me that society still has that [belief of], ‘OK, this is what a woman should be doing and this is what a man should be doing.’ I still see that in a lot of ways.”
In the photographs, Meynier imagines characters whose names she makes up and later forgets over the span of the photoshoot. It makes her wonder what she would be doing if she were born in a prior era. Would she subscribe to those gender roles? Would she be a rebel? The questions fascinate her.
Meynier developed an interest in mid-century modern architecture when she moved to the U.S. to do research. Her parting gift from her laboratory in France was a camera. She found herself enchanted with photography and photo editing. She recalls weekends of roaming and shooting. “I decided to quit the research world and get an MFA in photography,” she says.
Earning her photography degree at the Academy in 2013, she focused on fine art shooting.
“From the very beginning, I’ve been very honest with myself as far as photography. It’s been a solo adventure,” she says. She always shoots by herself, with no assistants. She now works less with models, choosing to pursue self-portraiture.
“Everything is on my own. I do my own styling, I do everything in post-processing. It’s a cathartic way of doing things. It’s more like something that I needed to do to release things in myself.”
Meynier edits the photos to make them look warmer. It’s not a nostalgic touch, she says, but her intention to make the images appear as she sees the world.
People often ask Meynier if psychology informs her work. She thinks this may be because of her academic background and the introspective quality of her photos. “I would say I never, ever think of this when I do photography,” she says. It’s her own experience. She says she was sexually abused as a child. “It really affected me in a lot of ways. Photography is an outlet to kind of get out. I would say that’s the main drive.”
Today, it’s her turn to impart her knowledge to aspiring photographers as an instructor at the School of Photography. Apart from that, she’s also currently completing a booklet of her series of 16 images. She intends to use it to secure more shooting locations. She also just won second place in Fine Art and gold in Fine Art/Portrait at the Budapest International Foto Awards and third in APA’s Something Personal competition.
Her advice to those pursuing fine art photography? “Go with what you need to do with your gut, in photography or anything.”
Photos courtesy of Chloe Meynier
Original article by Cristina Schreil of Academy Art U News, https://artunews.com/