AJ Schnettler

AJ Schnettler

Official Sites: Website | Instagram | Facebook

About The Artist

AJ Schnettler is a nonbinary, multi-racial photographer and printmaker born and raised on the South Shore of Long Island. They decided to get a new perspective on life and education by moving to the West Coast to pursue their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography with a minor in Printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2019. Their work is based on what one does to provide self-acceptance. Working through identity or the space surrounding them; how to feel at peace overcoming negative, social, and cultural pressure. Most recently working to discuss mental health including anxiety, body dysmorphia, and social standards.

Artist Statement

The world isn’t as happy and cheery of a place as we’d all like to admit. I always sort of knew that. Like most people, confiding in comforting spaces is what helped me. These were my safe spaces, places where I feel safe from the world and have a say in who was allowed in. Growing up and sharing a bedroom with my younger sibling, personal space seemed important but not necessary; I just needed a little bit of privacy once in a while. However, after being in an abusive relationship, it went from not very high on my priority list to the top. They have become so important to me because I have a better understanding of their significance. I am doing what I can to show its importance.

With these books, I am sharing my safe spaces. I show the spaces in order of places I have the most say in who has access to the places where I have the least say. In the book, I have a self-portrait that is overlaying a soft ground etching of the space. Because comfort and safety go hand in hand, I use the textures of the spaces to define themselves in ways the photograph cannot. With each volume, I add more and more textures and layers. For example, Volume 2 has embossed writing while Volume 1 does not. Because these books are so personal, the box each book lays in acts as a safe space for the book. You can see how many people have had the chance to enter its safe space, and know-how often it’s been exposed, by the color of the light-sensitive fiber paper lining the box. Now, I’m not saying you need to show your safe spaces; I’m just saying you have control over the accessibility of your room, your apartment, and your safe space.

Creative Practice

Most of my work is something I come up with and slowly edit for years before I actually turn it from an idea into a physical project. This series began as a final project for a book-making class, and I became a lot happier with it than I expected, which is why I continued the series and hope to make more volumes.

I have a studio I share with my partner. We’ve created a bookmaking space, a photo digital and darkroom printing space, and a black and white film development space. We also have a miniature pinscher named Bo who hangs out with us and our four rabbits. Between the many pets and my partner, I have a great support system in my studio, which encourages me to do my best even at my worst. This space, may I note, is technically my partner’s apartment that we converted into a studio and we just live in mine.

Sharing Space Artwork

Example Of Artist’s Work