Natalie Krick MFA ’12

Photographer. Investigator. Revisionist.

Photography MFA alum Natalie Krick teamed up with her mother to interrogate cultural perceptions of women in her award-winning photography collection Natural Deceptions.

Natalie Krick MFA ’12 and her mother perform for the camera. They pose and masquerade as each other, or mimic the glamour of stylized fashion spreads and celebrity photography. In “Self-portrait as my mother’s mother,” Krick dons a gray wig while contrasting herself against a sky—at once posturing as her mother, her grandmother, and herself.

Natalie Krick's Self-portrait as my mother's motherSelf portrait as my mother's mother, Natural Deceptions, 2014


Krick challenges societal norms of photographing women as “easy on the eyes” with her brightly-colored flash photography, collage, and photo manipulation. Her work investigates the performance and cultural perceptions of sexuality and gender. And her thesis collection, Natural Deceptions, received the 2017 Aperture Portfolio Prize, which highlights contemporary photographers whose work deserves greater recognition.

Your mother is a frequent subject in Natural Deceptions. How has that impacted your relationship?

When I was at Columbia [College Chicago], I started photographing my mom. I was visiting her a lot [in Colorado] and she would come [to Chicago] sometimes. But I was also photographing other women in Chicago, sort of in the same manner. Once I graduated, I started only working with my mother, and I ended up moving back to Colorado to work on that project.

The first time I photographed her, I knew there was something magnetic in those pictures, so we kept at it. She’s really great at putting up with me and my ideas, and she’s been incredibly supportive and excited about the work getting out into the world.

Natalie Krick's My mother in bed with rosesMy mother in bed with roses, Natural Deceptions, 2015


How is photography a performance?

How are bodies rendered feminine or sexual? Through the way they are styled and posed—through artifice and performance. I would perform or have my mom perform this way for my camera. The camera complicates things. Especially now—camera phones have drastically changed how we see ourselves: our awareness of our image, how we perform for the camera, how we project our image out into the world…Lana Del Rey’s lyrics have been on repeat in the back of my mind: “I’m camera ready/almost all the time.”

Natalie Krick's Ladies NightLadies night, How She Got Her Body Back, 2016


How would you describe your use of pop culture in Natural Deceptions?

Every image I make is referencing something else: a sunscreen ad from the ‘70s, an image from a Kardashian Instagram, a beauty advertisement, a picture of my grandmother, a playboy centerfold of Marilyn Monroe. I think of images in pop culture trickling down and influencing what we think is beautiful and sexy. These [pop culture magazine] poses are ridiculous, so I was thinking about how it changes the meaning of the pose when I’m having my mom perform it for the camera.

[At Columbia] I was looking at a lot of that material—hoarding it on my computer and [keeping] magazines—and really examining how the same clichés and tropes are used over and over to sexualize women. I’m taking these clichés and making them personal.


All images courtesy of the artist.

Natalie Krick's MasksMasks, Natural Deceptions, 2014


Natalie Krick's ShineShine, How She Got Her Body Back, 2017