Thursday, September 30, 2010

Full Interview.. Long I know...

(me takin' pictures in Iceland)

Questions by Risa Shoup for the Huffington Post.

1. Did an event/experience/person/cultural product influence you to become an artist? How?

I became a photographer haphazardly. At nine, while at my parent’s friend’s home for dinner, their teenage daughter showed me videos she’d made of her and her friends partaking in some illegal recreational activities. I decided instantly that making homemade movies about one’s friends was incredible and spent the next year pleading for a video camera of my own. After I’d worn my parents out, I received said video camera and spent several months making movies about my dog and my baby sister, and then became bored. More begging and pleading ensued and eventually I acquired my first 35mm camera. I have been photographing ever since. I grew up around a lot of art and artists, and so from a young age being a photographer seemed like a normal thing to become.

2. Describe as specifically as you can how a few of the books you selected for the show influenced the specific work of yours exhibited in the show.

WH Auden Letters from Iceland: I read this after I traveled to Iceland and so this book was influential in the editing and titling process. Auden so well articulated the subtleties of the landscape of Iceland as I had experienced them. So I extracted many sentences from this book. The title of this body of work A Strange Sound In The Deep Silence is extracted from a much longer sentence of his.

Freud The Uncanny: I also used this text in the editing process to help me better understand what it was I was reacting to in the Icelandic landscape. I could sense that there was something pervasive throughout the hundreds of photographs I had taken and that there must have been a reason I was compelled to venture into empty landscapes, but I wasn’t able to put my finger on it until reading this text and wrestling with the idea of the unknown coming to light.

3. I feel that influence and inspiration related, but not at all the same thing. What do you think about this - am I splitting hairs? Or do you too see a difference in these concepts? Discus as it pertains to your work/process.

The difference I see between influence and inspiration is we don’t have ownership of our influences. An influence is an outside force acting upon us. It is something we interpret and tuck away. Whereas inspiration is an internalized process, it comes from the inside out. Inspiration is a product of oneself, created from an amalgamation of our influences.

Being in transit or being alone inspires me. Where as a million different things, including music and books influence me. I find my best thoughts often arrive while on a train or a bus going somewhere alone. I was recently introduced to the theory of drifting, which is a poetic way of saying being alone in thought. According to this theory, artists respond well to being alone to just float, or drift along. I’m sure all types of people would respond well in this situation, but I find moments of inspiration come easily when I’m in limbo between two places.

4. In this age of intrusive but necessary technology, we can easily learn a lot about the personal lives of artists and other public figures. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue in general, but some specific questions are: How relevant is an artist's personal life to an observer's experience of their work? Do you think it is imperative that someone understand your personal life in order to fully absorb your work? Or does it merely influence their perception, perhaps even enrich it, but it isn't at all necessary?

This depends on how you want to approach or understand a work of art. I don’t think you need to know the personal background but it’s certainly my preference. I have a much fuller understanding or appreciation when I know about the personal life of an artist. Context is important, and a personal history is just one way of placing a work in context. Monet’s water lilies are technical masterpieces. But they become so much more beautiful when they are understood as a man’s means of retreating into an interior world as World War I tanks clamored by in a neighboring field.

I try to make work that stems from a personal place but expresses ideas that everyone can relate to. Much of my work deals directly with my family, so in that case, I do think having knowledge of my background helps people understand the work.

In so far as technology, I do think its often intrusive, but all of the garbage and verbiage of gossip blogs and twitter, etc.. is of little consequence when it actually comes to the biography of an artist. I am not sure how now we learn more about artist’s lives than we could have previously in a magazine or newspaper interview or expose, or in a conclusive biography; a celebrity, or the President certainly, yes.

5. Describe for me, as best you can, what it is like to be influenced by something you've read and have that influence manifest in the visual aspect of your work.

The best way I can explain my process of influence to execution is like those small capsules that become little animal or dinosaur shaped sponges I would buy with my Dad when I was little. A sentence for me is like a small capsule. It floats around and soaks for a while in my mind. And slowly but surely it begins to unfurl, and overtime it begins to resemble some familiar shape. And finally it is a giraffe that you can pick up and bend and stretch, or a fully formed idea that then I sketch and then make photographically.

If I am reading in the editing process, a sentence that resonates with me will just come flying off the page, a “ding” sound will ring in my head, and it becomes a title or the lens through which I interpret my photograph. This is immediate and totally intuitive.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Huffington Post

I am excited to say I (along with the other four artists) was interviewed for the Huffington Post about the exhibition I am in at the Winkleman Gallery.. check it out HERE... I'll post the full interview tomorrow for interested parties...

Palpable Angst

In the editing process... so get ready for a lot of similar pictures of my siblings...there is something about Cora's neck and shoulders that exudes angsty-teen... i love it

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lonely Cloud

Not a super exciting post, I know, even if clouds are your thing, but its Friday, and its cloudy, so.... This cloud was truly remarkable, which isn't sufficiently conveyed in this saved-for-web image. It looked like a volcanic plume, and there we no others like it in the sky. I tracked this cloud for about an hour.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

4th of July 3 Months Later

Trying desperately to get through the backlog of my film that sits in binders waiting to see the light of day again. Truth be told, I'm about a year and a half behind. But scanning pictures from only three months ago feels like a mini-victory. Even if they are silly pictures of my silly friends being silly.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Maggie First Day of Highschool 5pm

I've anxiously and excitedly waited for Maggie to become her own person, an independent agent, instead of being cast solely in the role of "my little sister" ie. my little shadow. This day seems to have finally arrived. Now more than ever she looks, dresses, and acts a lot like me, but alas, gone are the days when she followed my every move. On Friday night Maggie did not call me fifty times to find out what time my bus arrived in Philadelphia, or wait loyally by the front door for me to come home. Instead, Maggie had a date with six friends to go to a diner, and go listen to their angst-y friend play some Bob Dylan covers on a guitar at a local coffee shop. Her plans were cooler than my Friday night plans (sushi with mom) and needless to say, I was so totally not invited, despite half joking to Maggie that I was coming with her. When the opportunity presents itself to mildly embarrass a younger sibling, one must seize and capitalize on those moments. I was going to that diner. En route to my own less hip dinner, I plotted the execution of Plan Embarrass Maggie. I'd walk in, find them, and sit down and join right in on the conversation. Nothing more, nothing less. And just that is what I did. I asked the hostess where the clan of disruptive teenagers were and was pointed in the right direction by another patron whose meal, judging by the tone of her voice and her knowledge of the exact location of these kids, was impacted by my sister's posse. When I found them, I slipped onto an empty chair, and said emphatically that I told her I was coming to the show with her. Maggie's face contorted and then expressed a menagerie of emotions: shock, happiness, and complete and total humiliation. I was only joking, I told her, and immediately her body language changed to that of relief. I chatted with her and her friends for 30 seconds more, and then left before Maggie could let me know what I knew all along: that I was unwanted and no longer always welcome.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cora First Day of Highschool 5pm

A very strange development in the relationship between my two unrelated sisters has recently occurred . Since their birth, Maggie and Cora have remained separate entities in my life; two people who are both related to me but who are disconnected from one and other entirely. However this fall both girls entered into new high schools. Kids from Maggie's middle school now go to school with Cora, and vice versa. Children who were Cora's best friends when she was a toddler are now kicking soccer balls with Maggie on the Junior Varsity team. For me, this is a real mind fuck. Maggie and Cora, so far, seem unaffected by it all, in fact they seem almost humored by it. Maggie reported that she's had to explain that yes, she is Morgan's little sister, but the other one. And Cora has written me from summer camp saying that so and so says hi to Maggie. I've truly prioritized keeping them separate for a whole number of reasons too complicated and personal to explain here. But now, they are unintentionally having to deal with each others' presence in my life and theirs. More photographic documentation of this odd and modern family to follow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joshua First Day of Middle School 7am

For a number of reasons, I was in Philadelphia for my siblings' first day of middle school and high school, respectively.

I volunteered to take Joshua on his very first day as my mother had work. Josh and I rode the 7:10am train together last Tuesday morning. I sat in one seat and pretended not to know him, while he sat with his buddy Joe, a seasoned 7th grader. I read my book, and he and Joe and the other boys chatted about their summers and the malicious teachers awaiting them. We nodded heads in each others' direction when it was time to get off, and behind a group of 8 or so middle schooler's I watched Josh, with a backpack too large for his petit frame, trample forth with his peers. As a group we walked long city blocks and crossed the wide streets in the direction of their school, its a daunting walk if you're eleven. I casually asked all of the kids their names as I knew Josh would initially be too shy to do so, all the while thinking "Am I embarrassing him?" I tried to play the cool older sister.

Though the train was delayed we arrived at school in time. I followed Josh, who seemingly knew where he was going, into the office to drop off his paperwork. All public elementary school office's are built of the same stuff, the familiarity of this room was uncanny, including the people. A woman approached and when she spoke she asked if I had all of my child's paperwork together. I smiled, explained that Josh is my brother, and that I'd have to check with our mother to make sure everything was in order. She directed us to the auditorium. I wanted to hold Josh's hand while we walked, but refrained. From the door of the auditorium a man with a whistle around his neck was orchestrating the chaotic scene. Josh and I approached. Whistle-man shuffled through papers on a clipboard for sometime and eventually found Josh's name. He instructed us to sit in the 6th grade section. When I asked Josh if he wanted me to stand in the back, he said "no, sit with me" and I was thrilled. He seemed so little in this big auditorium. My memories of eleven are not so small. Various teachers and administrators spoke, and my childhood memories of boring assemblies were confirmed. But I forced myself to pay attention, for Josh. And then finally we (the parents and guardians) were told to leave. Josh and I shared a low high five, I gave him a wink, and then I left, or so he thought. I stayed and watched him from an obscure angle for a couple more minutes, waiting to see if he was ok, which of course he was, even though I felt like I wanted to cry. But I also felt like I served a purpose, and with that in mind, I turned and left him to have his first day of school.

Monday, September 13, 2010

These Moments Do Happen...

When you just don't want your picture taken...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

WYNC Likes Us Too!!


One of my lovely bosses Joyce Kozloff is in the first exhibition listed at the Jewish Museum!

A Friendly Reminder: TONIGHT!

Used Books
Featuring work by Brent Birnbaum, Danielle Durchslag, Morgan Levy, and R. Justin Stewart. Organized by Ryan Frank.
September 9 - October 9, 2010
Opens Thursday, September 9, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Curatorial Research Lab
@ Winkleman Gallery
621 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Maggie And Josh Part Un Success!

I just couldn't stay away.... and I figured out that Vimeo exists... follow the link to see Maggie and Josh's first deep thoughts on me photographing them. The other videos to follow next week. Please excuse firstly my voice which sounds terrible when recorded, and secondly my shoddy video skills.

Video HERE

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gone Fishing

Technology is letting me I am taking a break for a couple days to regroup and prep for photographing DAY 1 of highschool.. didn't you hear? I'm going back.

In the meanwhile.. more to ponder in the ways of photographing kids....