Fort Fairfield artist goes bold with new book

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 20, 2011, at 3:06 p.m.

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — As an artist, Jason Grass of Fort Fairfield loves color, but has always struggled to work comfortably with it.

Throughout his career, however, the 38-year-old University of Maine at Presque Isle graduate has always challenged himself to take his work to the next level. His work and career have been brightened by the result, a 175-page book of photography titled “Living in Color, Dreaming in Black and White.”

Grass will hold a book signing from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at UMPI’s Owl’s Nest, which is located inside the university’s Campus Center.

This is the second book for Grass, who holds a bachelor of fine arts and has also studied at the New York Institute of Photography. His first book, a 162-page photography table book titled, “Faded Away,” was released in June.

Grass did not originally set out to be an artist, and said in an interview late last week that he disliked it some in high school. After graduation, he secured a degree in computer electronics from Northern Maine Community College, served in the U.S. Navy and enrolled at UMPI after wrapping up his military career.

“I really have spent the past 11 years mainly working in black and white,” he said. “But I am always looking for ways to grow as an artist, and I knew that the next obstacle that I had to overcome was to kind of break out of my comfort zone and into the sphere of color.”

Grass does so by taking simple objects — such as a handkerchief, handfuls of candy, chalk, or a piece of fruit — and infusing them with color. He also pairs them against stark black-and-white backgrounds.

“I have 112 images in the book,” he said. “Some are all in color, and some have a splash of color. I pretty much picked everyday objects to shoot, and all of them can be found right in Aroostook County. This book is really a story of self-exploration, and it shows from beginning to end how comfortable I grew with color.”

In one image, a kaleidoscope of color bursts from glasses full of Skittles candy. In another, a young woman clutches a vibrant canary-colored scarf. Grass said that one of his favorite images is a black-and-white image of a girl holding a lemon like she is going to bite it, and the fruit is a bold, vivacious yellow.

The newest book is vastly different from “Faded Away,” which contains black-and-white images from eight cemeteries in Aroostook County. Grass started taking pictures for his newest book in March and completed it in five months.

“I think it is pretty interesting to see the variety of images,” he said.”Some are abstract objects with funky colors, while others are just colorful things that we see everyday photographed differently.”

In concert with his work as an artist, Grass teaches photography privately and also for the Fort Fairfield Adult Education program.

“Living in Color, Dreaming in Black and White” is published by MonkeyPublishing.com, which is also the publisher of “Faded Away.” For more about Grass and his work, visit his website, jasongrass.com.

The public is invited to attend the Sept. 21 book signing. For more information, contact Jessica Chase Smith at jessica.chase.smith@gmail.com or 551-2371.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/09/20/news/aroostook/fort-fairfield-artist-goes-bold-with-new-book/ printed on September 18, 2014