Justine Reyes lives and works in New York. She received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 and a BFA from Syracuse University in 2000.Reyes has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including Proyecto Circo at the 8th Havana Biennial, Cuba; Contemporary Istanbul, Turkey; Queens International 4 at The Queens Museum of Art, the S-Files Biennial at El Museo del Barrio, the Humble Arts Foundation’s 31 Women in Art Photography and the Flash Forward Festival in Toronto. She was an artist in residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock in 2008 and exhibited the series Vanitas there in 2010. Reyes was awarded the Juror’s Choice Award from Center’s project competition, a workspace residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and Visiting Scholar status at New York University. She was also a recipient of a QCAF grant from the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for her series Home, Away from Home and was named one of PDN’s (Photo District News) Top 30. Her work has been published in Harper’s Magazine, Real Simple and the Wall Street Journal Magazine.
Reyes' Vanitas series takes inspiration from Dutch Vanitas paintings and incorporate personal artifacts within the traditional construct of still life. Pairing objects that belonged to her grandmother with her own possessions speaks to the concept of memory, familial legacy and the passage of time. The incorporation of modern elements such as Saran wrap, plastic, sugar packages etc, as well as the use of photography itself add an additional layer of nostalgia and irony when viewed within the historical framework of Vanitas painting. Both the decomposition of the natural (rotting fruit and wilting flowers) and the break down of the man-made objects, reference the physical body, life’s impermanence and the inevitability of death. The series examines identity, mortality and the longing to hold on to things that are ephemeral and transitory in nature.