June turned two yesterday. Wow. It feels like she's been part of our lives forever, and it also feels like it should be her first birthday, that it can't possibly be two entire years since she was born. The top image is obviously from August 29th, 2006, and the second image was taken by Edie on June's first birthday, at the exact time she was born, 3:12pm. I meant to do the same yesterday, I really did, but time got away from me, and June has a cold and was looking a little worse for wear regardless, so I plan to take some photos tomorrow that will have to suffice as images of what she looks like now, with her hair that much longer, her face that much older. What I love about her is she's such a little character: a completely formed personality in this chubby babyish body. She's a spunky thing, in the best way possible, and whenever I look at her I can't believe my luck. Two healthy, beautiful girls. I'm feeling very grateful this evening.
at 7:11 PM
Well, I'm finally almost done with retooling my website. The only thing I have left is to finish up my newest gallery which is currently hidden while I do some final tweaking and arranging. That part of the website will be evolving regardless; it's my latest series and I'm still forming my ideas about the concept, continually shooting for it, etc. and so it will change over the coming days and months, even after my launch is "official." So I'm holding off a little while longer before I send out emails and post that it's ready to view, even though it's pretty much complete.
One thing I went back and forth on was the background color, and I finally settled on changing it to white. I tried multiple (and I mean multiple) variations, but it kept either coming back to that strange beige/nude tone that I had originally which I felt functioned as a neutral (and which you can see a swatch of above), and plain old white. In the end I decided it's about the images, and white was the best choice as far as not distracting from the photographs themselves was concerned. In advance of me feeling I'm ready to shout to the hills that it's settled and done and announcing it here, feel free to take a peek.
at 3:06 PM
© Timothy Archibald
I have been wanting for ages now to put up a post about Timothy Archibald's series Echolalia. I don't know why it took me so long--I think part of it is that I freeze up when thinking about how to address the work, simply because so much of the imagery takes me to that place of pure looking--of complete immersion--and it's difficult to address this feeling of absorption in words. Timothy is a well-respected and accomplished photographer, but I'll admit that for me he's only a recent discovery, and coming across his work late one night in the dark in front of my computer screen was a revelation. I was so taken that I emailed Timothy to tell him how much I loved his images, which started a wonderful little email exchange where we discussed parenthood and creativity, the concepts behind our series, and the like. I read his blog daily, always hoping for a new Echolalia picture, and though I could go on and on about what I see in the photographs I'll leave it to you to go experience the beauty of the pictures for yourself; you can see some on his main website here, and more on his Work in Progress blog here. Sometimes you come across imagery that you just know you can't do justice to in written form.
at 3:01 PM
Still working on my website...
Once again I'm trying to decide whether to let go of certain pictures. At the end of my "Traces and allegories" gallery I have four pairs of vertical images and a final horizontal image entitled Cord, seen above. They're all of Edie when she was a tiny baby: my first examinations of life as a mother, stylistically related to what came before her birth via the close-up detail shots of dust bunnies and other domestic imperfections, and the more set-up fairy-tale-esque allegory work. The photographs of Edie in this visual mode were never plentiful, but I feel a deep attachment to these shots. They were my first foray into looking at my child through my art. And yet I wonder if they feel tacked on to the end of the other two more well-developed bodies of work. They obviously don't fit in with "Life is a series...": different, camera, different format, different mindset. So there they sit while I contemplate hitting the delete button, relegating them to my archives in order to give the square-format images room to breath. Thoughts?
at 11:25 AM
Fantastic photographer Justin Visnesky, whom I've previously talked about here and here and here and here (can you tell I like his work?) contacted me about being part of a show called HERE and THERE that he's curating at Snowflake/Citystock gallery in St. Louis, and I was only too happy to sign on. If you look back over my writing about Justin I've mentioned not only that I love his photographs, but that I think he has a real eye for editing, and in sending me files of the images he's paired up for the show he did not disappoint. I won't post any of the diptychs/triptychs so as not to ruin the surprise of seeing the work in person for those who might happen to be in the area, but be sure to check out the websites of the participating artists (including Justin himself) to get an idea of the photographers and their styles. It's also nice to be in something taking place in my old stomping grounds, as I went to college at Washington University in St. Louis and know the area well. Here are the links:
I won't be jetting out to Missouri in September, alas, but one of these days I'll have to take a nostalgic return trip--I haven't been back since I graduated in 1997 but have fond memories. Young'uns, be forewarned: eleven years can go by really, really quickly.
P.S. Justin is having a print sale; the photograph is beautiful and it's only $30.
at 10:18 AM
© Andrew Hetherington
I just signed up for 20x200's email list so was one of the first to know about Moo Cow by Whats the Jackanory's Andrew Hetherington. How could I resist? I'm not sure if he'd be happy to know this or not, but I think it will look fantastic above Edie's bed. She does have a very hip room, for a four-year-old. Looks like these will sell out quickly, so don't delay.
Looking forward to the Bond Street opening tonight, I'll have the chance to walk down my old block in Carroll Gardens. I used to live on 1st Street between Hoyt and Bond, so the gallery is literally right around the corner. I spent two years on 1st St. before moving with James to Warren between Smith and Hoyt, then on to our current locale of Maplewood, NJ. It's always nice to go back to the old neighborhood and reminisce, though poor James has food poisoning so won't be joining me after all. Luckily I'm meeting up with the lovely Melanie Flood so I won't be in the corner trying to look cool all by my lonesome...
In a crazy small-world twist I received a nice email from Timothy Briner, whom I've never met, saying he reads Tethered and will also be at the opening. I wrote back to let him know that that I think his project Boonville is amazing, and I love the honest writing on his blog HYSMD, so I was happy he'd gotten in touch. I mentioned the exchange to James and as it turns out Timothy did some photo assisting for him a while back, nuts!
So I'm heading upstairs to take a shower while the kids are with our babysitter, must get ready. Keep a lookout tonight for a blond woman who needs a haircut holding a Fuji FinePix that's been decorated with red crayon and stickers (that would be Edie's doing, as you might have guessed).
at 2:00 PM
At the risk of recycling the current buzz about the Bond Street Gallery opening (don't get mad at me, Will) I'll do my own quick post just in case you hadn't seen the details on all the other blogs. And be sure to read this interview over on Shoot the Blog with Humble Arts Foundation curator and excellent photographer-in-his-own-right Jon Feinstein. You can also visit the gallery's website here. I almost forgot to mention: I'm going to be there, so I hope to see some of you tomorrow night at what looks to be quite an event.
at 5:25 PM
Two more stills from "Counting Losses," 2001. My video work always included narrative either in voice-over or, in the case of CL, actual text superimposed on the images in parts. I'm realizing this blog is functioning in much the same way that my exploration of the combination of words and visuals did back when I was making videos.
at 10:35 AM
Ok, I lied. I'm still up. The computer is very addictive for me, and I've been sitting here for the last hour plus going through old files and cleaning up folders. Believe it or not my MFA thesis at SVA was a video (called Counting Losses), and for the first time in a long time I looked at some stills I have in my archives. One of these days I'll get around to putting the actual video on DVD, but for now I only have it on VHS and Beta and we got rid of our VCR a few years back so I haven't watched it in a while. It was a response to my grandmother's death and the process of going through to her apartment and clearing out her possessions. As always mortality, the passage of time, and nostalgia were strong themes. These two frames struck me for their similarity to "Handprints." This particular hand belongs to my sister Annie; I made the video in 2001, two-and-a-half years before Edie was born. Hard to believe...
If nothing else, what I see throughout my work is that I have a particular way of composing images and am drawn to the same subjects again and again, within different mediums, and often without quite realizing it. The way I frame shots is highly intuitive, so in some ways it's a little uncanny to see how consistent I am. But also kind of nice, I must admit.
at 11:30 PM
So very tired and off to bed; I'll tackle any unanswered emails tomorrow. I leave you with three new images soon to be added to the web gallery of my Visiting series. Lest you think I'm a horrible parent, be assured that the first picture is the only frame I got of Edie in that sorry state. She turned around crying because she couldn't get her bumper car to move and began screaming that she wanted to get off--I took one quick photo and promptly went to her aid. No need to contact social services, but I appreciate your concern.
at 9:51 PM
As I redo my website there are certain images I'm feeling the need to let go of. In fact, I decided to remove the gallery "First days" altogether (the photos above are from that series). It was a project that meant a lot to me at the time, but was admittedly short-lived. It was one of those series that helped me confront my emotional reaction to my birth experience with Edie, but it was a fairly fleeting body of work, and one that I didn't continue to pursue. I shot a lot in a short amount of time, got it out of my system, and then it was finished. Still, it's hard to relegate images to the possibly never-to-be-seen-again archives. And now I'm struggling with how much to show in the space left over from deleting a gallery.
I have so many images from "Life is..." but I'm wondering if it's better to keep it narrowed down and leave the viewer wanting more, or to create two galleries because there's so much of a story to tell, and to allow the viewer to better become part of this world. I also have this nagging fear that in redoing the site I'll make it worse, not better. The images are going to be bigger: will this remove some of the sense of intimacy, or will it allow details that may have been lost before to be fully experienced? I wonder if other artists struggle with this. You start to get some much-appreciated recognition and then you worry that if you alter anything the love will fade. This is that defeatist voice, the one that fears change, the one that desires approval, the voice that I think is so often present in the mind of an artist. What I need to do, as always, is to remind myself that if I personally think the redo of my website is better then that's what counts--critics (and supporters) aside.
This is what being dedicated to your art does I suppose: it forces you to confront those interior voices, to bring those doubts and insecurities to the surface and challenge them, to cultivate your belief in your work and, as much as possible, dispel the need for approval that is such a human want. But it's no easy task, and I must say it's comforting when I read that other photographers struggle with the same issues.
I've actually been rereading Art & Fear which is a nice little book that my sister Katie gave me years ago as a birthday present. I tend to think that if I were truly "enlightened" (whatever that means) that the doubts wouldn't be present, that I could create work in my own little bubble and be comfortable with the possibility of never being recognized. What this book does is show that a desire for recognition isn't something to be ashamed of. Unless you're some version of the "I make my art for moi," nihilistic, beret-wearing, social outcast, kinda-crazy artist stereotype that pretty much only exists in the movies, then you probably care. The trick is not to let the caring take over the work. You know what I'm going to say next, don't you? Balance, my friends. It's all about balance.
I'll leave you with a few nuggets from the book:
The line between the artist and his/her work is a fine one at best, and for the artist it feels (quite naturally) like there is no such line. Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be...What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those you don't, quit. Each step in the artmaking process puts that issue to the test.Some people who make art are driven by inspiration, others by provocation, still others by desperation. Artmaking grants access to worlds that may be dangerous, sacred, forbidden, seductive, or all of the above. It grants access to worlds you may otherwise never fully engage. It may in fact be the engagement--not the art--that you seek. The difference is that making art allows, indeed guarantees, that you declare yourself. Art is contact, and your work necessarily reveals the nature of that contact. In making art you declare what is important.
at 11:14 AM
Many, many thanks to Miguel Garcia-Guzman over at Exposure Compensation for this post up today about my work. To know that my photographs have had an emotional impact is, to me, the highest compliment someone can offer about my images. The act of taking pictures--as I've mentioned before--is about finding that sense of connection, passion, and fundamentally capturing my emotional response to a scene before me, so to know that this quality came through for Miguel is, frankly, quite moving to me. As always, I'm honored.
at 12:27 PM
© Stella Kalaw
I first learned of Stella Kalaw's work when she kindly left a comment on Tethered a few months ago, and I'm only just now getting around to posting about her, as is usually the case. I find her photographs hauntingly beautiful--the quality of light and color really blow me away. Family Spaces is my personal favorite from among her three galleries--each diptych is like its own short story, the kind that stays with you, the kind that's there when you close the page and turn out the bedside light. I felt this even before I looked at the second series on her website, entitled The House Remembered, which fittingly is a collaboration with writer Marianne Villanueva.
Combining word and image can be tricky--at its worst it can be like the copy of the Tao Te Ching I bought on amazon a while back, with its cheesy, typical black-and-white photos of birds in flight and silhouettes of trees against the sky. But I believe Kalaw and Villanueva mostly hit the right note here: lyrical words are paired with lyrical images, each informing the other, quietly taking their time to sink in. I suppose my favorite kind of photographs generally have this lyricism, revealing layers from within their quiet intimacy.
Kalaw also maintains a blog which you can see here.
at 10:40 PM