I created this body of work after moving from the southern United States to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The move occurred at the same time I was entering mid-life and ending a career as a psychotherapist. My identity was shifting and I began to look for a way to express this transition from “the known” to “the unknown”. Living in a city with a carefully cultivated image made me curious about what was hidden from view, and I wanted to explore this place and photograph areas that others might see as unattractive or even avoid. I found that by shooting commonplace architecture and streetscapes I could express something deeper inside me and also invite the viewer to consider the human experiences of loss, fear, secrets, desire, and loneliness. My experience as a psychotherapist informed me on avoidance as well – the very human tendency to turn away from the parts of ourselves that are uncomfortable or painful to explore. I see my photographs as an extension of this work. These photographs are a visual expression of a desire to know something deeper through the process of decontextualizing my environment, breaking it down into it’s essential elements. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the sublime in these places – when I do, it feels like I have discovered gold. My photographs are strongly influenced by Lewis Baltz, Aaron Siskind, and Stephen Shore as well as the abstract expressionists and color field painters of the 1940s and 50’s. These digital images are archival pigment prints mounted to dibond. They are printed in larger sizes when exhibited - from 20 x 27 36 x 40 and 54 x 36 (sizes are approximate).
This body of work is an exploration of the meditation technique called "active imagination," developed by Carl Jung. The process involves translating the contents of one’s unconscious into images or stories. Jung linked active imagination with alchemy, as both strive for wholeness from fragments. This technique can bridge the personal unconscious with the Collective Unconscious—structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among all humans. These images are a personal examination of symbols, inviting the viewer to consider loss, secrets, loneliness, self-doubt, and woundedness. The project extends from The Deconstructed Self series and explores a wider view of banal street and architectural scenes to convey something beyond the surface.
Spontaneous scenes shot roadside in the American West. These images ask the viewer to consider the changing landscape and traditional ideas of "America the Beautiful".
I live in Santa Fe, NM where I am inspired to look for psychological metaphors in commonplace architecture and streetscapes. I am trained as a psychotherapist, and I see photography as an extension of that work. Both have called me to explore what is hidden from view, those aspects of self or environment that we may prefer to ignore. I suspect it is our nature to avoid what is difficult or painful, but sometimes I get a glimpse of the sublime in these places. When I find it, it feels like I have discovered gold.
I shoot with a digital camera and do this nearly every day. I don't go anywhere special to make my photographs; instead I find my images around shopping malls, apartment complexes and office parks. I dismantle these scenes to color fields, geometry and shadow. The places I frequent for my images are probably not what people visualize when they think of Santa Fe, a city with a carefully cultivated image. I prefer to shoot in locations that may be viewed as uninteresting or even visually off-putting. This is exciting and challenging for me, to see the metaphorical hiding in plain sight. My photographs are archival ink jet prints mounted to dibond.
Natalie Christensen is a self-taught photographer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is primarily known for her contemporary minimalist abstractions of New Mexico architecture and streetscapes. She has been featured in Lens Culture, Feature Shoot, Ignant, All About Photo, Jungle Magazine, Women in Photography, Profiles in Photography, Tagezanziger, and Fotopolis among others. She has won several regional awards and shown work both nationally and internationally. Unconventionally, Natalie has used the Instagram social media platform as the vehicle for launching her photography career and has nearly 35,000 followers.
Natalie Christensen has worked as a psychotherapist for over 25 years and has been particularly influenced by the work of depth psychologist, Carl Jung. This influence is evidenced in her photographs, as shadows and psychological symbolism are favored subjects.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.