It’s been a minute (somehow 5 years??) since we released a new limited-edition print from photographer Jessica Zollman, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re desperate for some beauty-induced beatitude! Aside from being an entirely self-taught photographer who’s grown her art practice into a full-time career with a considerable following, Zollman, aka @jayzombie, was the Community Evangelist and fifth-ever employee at Instagram—so you know she’s got a great eye for the compelling kind of photo that’ll stop you mid-scroll. Her new release, Bougainvillea Galaxie, is an absolute breath-taker. That bright swarm of buds! That fabulous old ford! It’s a cinematic, summery scene that seems like it has a story to tell (something we love in an image). And it brings the sort of edgy-meets-elemental urban botanics that really balance an indoor oasis … or whatever we’re calling our quarantine bunkers these days.
Zollman shot Bougainvillea Galaxie a few summers ago in LA’s Echo Park neighborhood, from the window of a moving vehicle. There’s something very SoCal about a car-window capture, something that calls to mind scenic rides and coastal road trips. That it’s a car-window capture of a car doubles down on the vibe. This Ford Galaxie’s lovingly scuffed exterior suggests it’s seen several languid, late-night drives itself, and since it’s a vintage model it places the viewer in the nostalgic past. (Its name was also a marketing ploy to benefit from the hubbub around the Space Race, drumming up serious early ‘60s energy.) The Galaxie is the designated storyteller here, passively carrying the narrative as it sits parked in a quiet corner partially shaded under a magenta cloud of bougainvillea. That vivid, vining nebula, however, is arguably the star of this image as it scrambles skyward over a cinderblock wall. It’s looming presence has a surreal quality, a hovering heavenly body.
The intimate, talkative interplay between the bougainvillea bush and the old-school automobile is surely what caught Zollman’s eye as she cruised by in a car. Looking at Bougainvillea Galaxie, there’s a real sense that this stunning moment is fleeting—the serendipitous coalescence of a super sunny day, a corner angle that draws the eye in, bougainvillea in full bloom. The sun is hitting the car just-so, half-lit like it’s stepping into a spotlight. Some freshly dropped, peak-color petals are sprinkled at the front wheel like parade confetti. Adding to the ephemerality is the sheer fact that Zollman shot this from a moving car.
Going back later, Zollman found that the car and the bush had both vanished. That she was able to create this image when she had the chance is a testament to her talent, and a really good reminder to be present, be observant, and appreciate all life’s little flashes of beauty when we come across them. They’re out there if you’re looking.
With art for everyone,