Artist Statements 2010
Photography is how I learn about people. It is the way I get to spend time in places I might otherwise not enter and to interact with people I might otherwise not meet. By exhibiting my pictures, I try to connect people who might otherwise never be connected.
I have photographed in Clover Nursing Home for the past two years, spending most of that time getting to know the people who live there. Many of them have welcomed me into their homes and I have tried to photograph what I see with an open and sympathetic eye. It is very important for me to develop reciprocal relationships with the residents; I return again and again and I give them copies of the photographs that I take.
My photographs focus on the objects that people choose to bring with them, to what may be the last room they will ever live in. Some of these objects are used practically while others are commemorative possessions. I focus on the mundane in order to find meanings suggested by these everyday objects that are often overlooked. I want to honor the feelings that these objects evoke and I see them as portraits of their owners.
The absence in my images is as important as the clutter. I see the emptiness I find in these spaces as metaphors of the inevitabilities that come with aging.
My photographs are taken full-frame, they are detail oriented, and they ask the viewer to focus. I have no overarching message. They are simply meditations on people, the objects they chose to surround themselves with, and certain truths we all must succumb to. My photographs are not just about death but also about loss, memory, and some of the ways we adapt our lives to new spaces.
When I first considered the idea of working with animation, it was as a solution to my inability to commit to one medium. I thought it at least struck a fair compromise between my interest in film and my propensity to doodle. Then I discovered the work of surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer. Svankmajer showed me the magnificent technique of stop-motion animation, and an absurdist sensibility that inspired me and my work.
For a film nerd, practicing the technique of stop-motion is like taking a clock apart to understand time. I can see the mechanism of cinema at its most basic level – the change in one frame to the next, and the unseen manipulation that occurs between. It may be a tedious process, but it’s entirely manageable for a film crew of one.
As I grew more comfortable with the medium, I began to think about using this project as an opportunity to challenge some formal conventions in animation. Instead of creating a narrative with footage taken from a variety of camera angles, I thought about making a set that would resemble a page from a book of manuscript illuminations or Persian miniatures. The complete narrative would unfold within a single frame instead of an assemblage of close-ups, shot/reverse-shots, and tracking shots. Maybe this was a way to avoid laboring over many different sets, but I also thought it made an elegant reference to a medium of storytelling that predated cinema.
I do use software programs for sequencing the images that I capture with a digital camera, though as a whole, my production process is relatively barbaric compared to Pixar. But I think there’s something charming about just barely conveying an effect, movement, or structure; it exposes the magician’s trick, but showcases his ingenuity.
I want people to like watching my films. I’m not interested in posing questions of meaning to my audience, but I do want people to think about how the films make them feel – confused, happy, sad, angry, or if nothing else, I want them to be entertained.
I like shocking and provocative art. The medium, genre, and decade do not matter, as long as the art makes you think and feel. When it comes to my photography, I am never satisfied unless I have created something that causes me to stop and think.
In my work I take an intimate look at the female body. I don’t direct or control my models, my process is a give and take, a conversation about the images as they are being created.
I am not trying to create aggressive feminist art; I did not begin shooting with the intention to defy preconceived notions about the female body. Rather, I shoot to make each of these pictures. I shot for hours, trying to find the one image that made me stop. Then that image took root in my work, and led into this body of work.
I was influenced by the photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Sally Mann, Lillian Bassman, and John Coplans. Their various approaches to photographing the body have affected the form and my understanding of my work While I would not want to mimic or mirror any of these artists, I aspire to the elegance I see in their images.
I am still coming to terms with my work. I don’t know if I push the boundaries enough. I don’t want to make soft and pretty work, but then at times, I worry I have gone too far. I am in love with these images, the tactile nature of the skin that makes you want to reach out and touch it. Rather than worry about the boundaries I’m pushing and the reaction of the audience, I focus on creating. I hope by keeping some of my process unconscious, I will stumble upon something provocative and beautiful.
My studio thesis is composed of digital and analogue photography. My subject matter is models who I pose in an outdoor setting that I find visually stimulating. I enjoy using different lenses and cameras that introduce elements out of my control and play off of my compulsive desire to have full jurisdiction of everything in a photo. I have specifically chosen each setting, model, positioning and frame to meet my personal aesthetic. Despite all these controlled factors, I am consistently surprised by the ways in which my camera and lenses I use affect my images.
My models are nude. I began my project with the idea of juxtaposing the human form with a vast surrounding environment. I wanted the body to be naked, with no protection from the natural environment. As the weather became colder, I encountered difficulty having models pose outside. I began to realize that having a figure take staged poses in a cold environment can be comically unnatural. The scenes I construct are not normally something one would stumble upon. I want my viewers to feel a sense of displacement.
Over the year, exploring a range of poses lead me to focus on having my models take one consistent position, turned away from the viewer with their backs exposed. This has been a constant in my work. By obscuring the face I make it difficult for the viewer to identify with the model. By having the model’s back to the audience, the figure is less confrontational. I want viewers to identify with my models as “the figure” rather than a specific person. I have experimented with how scale relationships between model and environment affect the reading of the photograph. My goal is to make images of visually thought-provoking situations that evoke a sense of discomfort or dislocation in my viewers.