For her series Wild Mustangs, photographer Jessica Cardelucci captured a herd rambling across the diminishing sprawl of America’s public lands. In each portrait we see these animals as they are — the dust and sweat, the strength of hoof against prairie, the swiftness at which they exist and play. In the pause of her lens we are able to sit with these creatures and learn of who they are as the lands they call home are slowly disappearing.
In her piece Plate 2, Cardelucci turns the camera on herself for the first time in her career. The black and white self-portrait bares the same rich grays and celestial shine of her Wild Mustangs series, but as the subject matter changes so does the story being told. In Plate 2, Cardelucci is both observer and the observed — art as devotional to the self. Her camera acts as an honest mirror, the subject carefully placed on display for inspection.
Cardelucci is the model minus make-up and props. Her outstretched hand, palm forward. Face obscured but we are sure to see the eyes. She wants us to see her as she is. The slow lines of the outdoors, of motherhood. You mature and gain wisdom, but what does that look like? Does parenthood visibly change us? Cardelucci seems to ask those questions without pretense. Just as her camera does not change the mustangs, it does not change her.
Plate 2 is an artist turning to her craft to fully embrace who she is. The photograph reveals Cardelucci as vulnerable as her wild mustangs are vulnerable, as grounded as they are, and with her attempting to live as naked as they do.