Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Senior Show

I can't believe that in just two days, my work will be hanging in a gallery for my senior show. Although it felt like an eternity while I was in school, it now seems to have all gone by so fast.
These past two semesters have been hard, to say the least. There were plenty of times where I hated my work and photography in general. Many times I wanted to give up, but I pushed through and am almost at the end.
The work I have done this year is some of my favorite work so far. I feel that my work looks like me. I can see myself, my thoughts, ideas, emotions, and history in my series. This work means a lot to me, not only because the subject matter is so important to me, but also because I have put so much time,thought, and energy into it.
I can see that I have come a long way from my first semester as a photography student. My work has progressed and become much more mature and unique to me. I can also see some similarities in my recent work as well. I tend to do my best work when using my family as a subject. I tend to be drawn to black and white photographs. I also seem to be more inspired and creative while using film, as opposed to digital.
I can't wait to see how everything comes together this Friday. Everyone has worked incredibly hard to make this show happen. I am hoping that it will be a complete success.

The two photographs above were chosen by the juror and will be shown at the Senior Show this Friday.

Myan Cosmovision in the 21st Century with Daniel Matul

This lecture, with Daniel Matul, was unlike anything that I have ever attended. Matul is the founder of Mayan International League and the former Minister of Culture of Quetzaltenango.
At the beginning of the lecture the Highland Support Project, a group at VCU, talked a bit about Mayan culture and the importance of the arts for the growth and preservation of Mayan culture. Matul talked briefly about the need for children to take part in creativity, to keep their culture alive.
He then went on to talk about the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012. He said that the Mayan Calendars, created thousands of years ago were as accurate as any computer today. He then went on to say that there was too much improper information about the Mayan calendar and 2012 prophecies. He said that it had been blown out of proportion. He did say that in the year 2012 there was going to e a change, and that these changes had already started taking place.
According to Daniel Matul, the world is not going to end. Instead there will be a shift, a rebirth. The poles will switch, and this will cause a different kind of energy pull on the earth and its citizens.
Matul said that it was a necessity for people to cultivate and pay more attention to their more artistic and feminine sides of their personality. HE said that it was very important to do this. To be creative, to make art, to writ poetry, and to express oneself in order to survive.
Although this is just a concept, and a drastic on at that, it was refreshing to hear someone say that art was a necessary part of life. The idea that we need more art and beauty in the world in order to survive seems to make sense. We need more in out lives than money, jobs, and material things. Life isn't worth much if you can't enjoy nay sort of beauty and creativity.

Anderson Gallery Entry Form

Thoughts on the Panel Review day

The panel review day went very well, actually better than expected. I was there early in the morning to set everything up, and was able to meet the first few panel members.
My meeting was later in the day, so I waited anxiously most of the afternoon. I asked students how their meeting went, and was surprised that most people had a positive experience.
My first meeting with Stretch Ledford was wonderful. I was very nervous as I walked up to the table and began to introduce myself and my work. I talked a little about my concept and what the project meant to me. Stretch was interested in this but seemed to be more interested in how and where my work was meant to be shown. He was interested in what type of audience my work was geared towards as well. Stretch is more of a commercial photographer, so it made sense that he was concerned about these topics.
He said some very inspiring and kind things to me. He could see that I was able to convey inner emotions through my work. He then went on to say that this was the meaning of true art. This may be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me about my work.
The only real problem he had with my presentation was my over sized portfolio box.
His photograph is shown above. (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 1993; color print.)

My second meeting with Aimee Koch also went very well. Again I nervous as I walked up to meet her. She was much more interested in the concept side of my work. I was a bit flustered and had a hard time conveying exactly what my work was about. This is something I will have to work on.
In the end she was interested in my work and mentioned a few times that it was unique. She gave me some great advice on how to arrange my series. She mentioned that some of the photographs were easier to read, while others were more abstract. She felt that it was important for the viewer to look at the less abstract pictures first, to get a feeling for the content, and then to be led onto the more abstract photos. This would hopefully get the viewer interested in the series and willing to spend more time with some of the more difficult pictures later on.
Her picture is also shown above. ( Shirt #4)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Darrel Ellis

"During his lifetime, Darrel Ellis created a large body of work that was based on family photographs taken by his father, who suffered a brutal death at the hands of careless police officers a month before Ellis was born."
"Working from his father’s photographs, Ellis reworks the imagery, translating it into paintings or drawings, or re-photographing the work and creating collages."(Art In General)

"Ellis used these photographs as the basis for paintings, drawings and photographs that manipulate the imagery through projections on to plaster sculptural reliefs which are then rephotographed and often translated into representational paintings." (Julie Saul Gallery)

Supporting Gallery:

I am not as surprised at how many artists use found, family imagery, as I am about how different each artist represents this idea. I have looked at Lorie Novak, Shimon Attie, Deborah Willis, and Cedric Smith, just to name a few. Darrel Ellis is my most recent discovery. He was introduced to his family photographs in the 1980's, after his father's death. Since then, he has used these photographs in many different ways. He has rephotographed, drawn, painted, sculpted from these images to make his own statement.
The first three images were taken from an exhibit of Ellis's. the second set of three are from a series titled, Family Distortions.
This title could very well be the title of my current series. I find it interesting that so many artists feel the need use old family imagery and distort it or change it in some way. The result is usually ambiguous, mysterious, and dark. I had this exact urge with my current work. I was not familiar with any of these artists before I started my research. My ideas and visions were my own. I was not directly inspired by any specific artist before I started.
Although I have many of the same ideas and concepts, as well as some of the same processes, my work doesn't look like any one artist's work. My way of looking at this family imagery is unique and personal. Each artist I have researched has a completely different way of working. Each series of each artist is it's own unique creation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Deborah Willis

Deb Willis has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow, and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, as well as the 1996 recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation award. She has pursued a dual professional career as an art photographer and as one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture. Exhibitions of her work include: A Sense of Place, Frick, University of Pittsburgh, 2005; Regarding Beauty, University of Wisconsin, 2003; Embracing Eatonville, Light Works, Syracuse, NY, 2003-4; Hair Stories, Scottsdale Contemporary Art Museum, Scottsdale, AZ 2003-4; The Comforts of Home, Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, VA, 1999; Re/Righting History: Counter narratives by Contemporary African-American Artists, Katonah Museum of Art, 1999; Memorable Histories and Historic Memories, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1998; Cultural Baggage, Rice University, Houston, TX, 1995. Her curated Exhibitions include: Engulfed by Katrina: Photographs before and After the Storm, Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Imagining Families—Images and Voices and Reflections in Black.

I came across Deborah Willis while looking at some of Lorie Novak's work. Willis was mentioned in an article in "Scholar and Feminist Online", which discussed Lorie Novak's work. Her work is part of a world wide web exhibit created by Novak, called Collected Visions. Willis's "The Familial Gaze" was part of this exhibit.
The second picture above is what caught my eye. I have come across huge group of artists who work mainly with concepts of nostalgia family history. Deborah Willis's style and concept reminds of Cedric Smith's work, an artist I researched last semester for senior portfolio.

Smith’s color photographs, all modestly sized and priced, feature the same sort of old-fashioned studio portraiture of black subjects, each vintage print pointedly re-photographed in front of a Southern landscape: A nervous-looking young man in his Sunday best is placed at a church’s entry, a startled child finds herself perched atop a fat cotton boll." (Art and Antiques)

Cedric Smith:

I am very interested in how different artists explore family history and memory. Each artist has their own style and concept. They go anout reaching a common goal, but work in very diferent ways.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Panel Review Day!

I am scheduled to meet with Aimee Koch and Stretch Ledford for the panel Review.
I was a student in Stretch's Business of Photography class last semester. I hated the class but though Stretch was very inspirational. He urged me to continue with photography when I was feeling like I wanted to quit. He gave me good feedback on my work as well. He also complimented a series I worked on about my Grandparents. I feel like I can trust Stretch to be honest with me, and we have a good relationship.
I also admire his work. He is very professional and has had a lot of experience. While he does more commercial work than fine art, he has fine art eye. His work is not all business. You can tell that he cares about his photographs through the lighting and the moments that he is able to catch. His work is available to view on his website.


I am not familiar with Aimee Koch. I was a little worried when I found out that I was to meet with her on panel review day. I did some research on her and looked at some of her work, and I am actually happy that I get to meet with her.
Her baby doll series has some similarities to some of my work, especially my pictures of my Grandmother's baby video. The up close, distorted faces of the baby dolls remind me of my work. I also liked her series titled "Undressed." Her lighting is beautiful and the images are haunting. Her images are shown above.


I also noticed that Aimee has very involved artist statements. She may be interested in a more in depth artist statement than some of the other panel members. Reviewing her work and doing some research on my panel reviewers has helped me to be better prepared for Monday.