Photo Diary Update

As many of my readers know, I carry a small point-and-shoot film camera around with me everywhere I go. I do this because I still like to capture pictures that I find in my day-to-day life, despite the fact that my usual practice involves constructing images. So, whenever I fill up a roll, I go and get it developed. The things that usually make me stop are beautiful ambient light or interesting patterns. I used to do this on a month-by-month basis, but with grad school and everything I’ve slowed down a lot. So, here, have some photos from December-February!

I just realized that all of these but one were taken when I was in Michigan, not Chicago. Whoops.

My spring break is nearly over, and it’ll be back to the grind soon. I’m already looking forward to summer when I’ll have time to explore exciting new places and make photos from whatever I find. (Then, of course, I’ll miss constructing images!)

Happy Shooting!

Time Flies When You Are Missing Ireland

I went to Ireland about three months ago now (wow, it’s been that long?) and I finally got the money around to getting the rolls from my trip developed. I shot everything using my precious fuji natura classica (bless that camera’s little soul.) I spent two and a half weeks in the Burren, where I studied and made work at the Burren College of Art.

We then spent a few days in Dublin before heading back to the United States. This was my second time in Dublin, but my first time visiting the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA, as in, IMMA look at some hella rad art.) We also went to the Natural History Museum, where we saw one of the highlights of my trip, the bog bodies. Holla.

I can’t wait to travel again. I make photos all of the time, but they are so constructed. It feels good to just go out and take pictures without having to think too much or contemplate concepts or piece together a thesis. I’m already looking forward to my next adventure, whatever that may be.

Happy Shooting!

Don’t Stop

“Don’t stop.”

This has always been by personal motto when it comes to making work. A lot of things can fall under the umbrella of “don’t stop,” like:

  • don’t stop making
  • don’t stop brainstorming
  • don’t stop planning
  • don’t stop researching
  • don’t stop reading

In an interview about a year ago, I was asked if I had any advice for aspiring artists. My answer? “Don’t stop.”

So this past week, I didn’t stop. I kept working and working like always, preparing for my next critique. Everything is starting to come together, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’m really pleased with the feedback I received last week about my sheet installation, especially the bits about taking the viewer on a journey. That’s exactly what I want to do with that installation, and I’m glad I’m on the right track. The feedback about engaging the sense of smell was also so important, and I’m totally going to experiment with that. This is why I love critique in grad school: it’s constructive, my peers are brilliant, and it makes the work better in the long run.

I sewed all the bears I’m going to need for my video piece, which was fun and creepy at the same time. Call me weird, but when I was drawing the faces on each and every one, I had the feeling that the bears were judging me, knowing fully well that I was going to mutilate them via fire, explosions, drowning, etc. I felt guilty, mais c’est la vie. They have to meet their fate.


I did a lot of filming this week of destroying some bears, and I found that sometimes my methods were too ludicrous. For example, this clip where I attached a bear to a rocket… The laughing for the last 20 seconds of the film basically sums up just how ineffective this approach was.



There’s a fine line I’m walking here, and it’s good that I’m making mistakes, because I can figure out what is working. With destroying these teddy bears, it can either be haunting/uncomfortable, or completely ridiculous, like with the above video. I love it. It’s good to see what isn’t working, but I don’t want the videos to be funny. I’m talking about childhood sexual violence, which is not a funny topic at all.

I’m still cranking out self-portraits, and I had some problems I needed to address.  I’ve been manipulating physical prints, which has been great because the textural components are interesting to look at, but the problem of longevity has cropped up. Some of these experiments simply can’t exist in the real world, because whenever they are touched they flake off. I will try to preserve them with polyurethane spray (recommended to be this weekend by a brilliant artist at SPE,) but in the meantime I photographed them. So now, they exist as a document to the process, instead of having the artifact.

This particular print I burned, re-photographed, and then went in and filled the holes created by the burns with black. I could fill the holes with other things, but I don’t know. I like the black, it’s like a void, and I think that speaks on a psychological and visceral level, especially the black hole over the vagina.

For the image below, I poured resin. It took me five days to get this many layers, because I had to wait for the resin to dry between each coat. I was thinking a lot about how trauma can make a person feel stuck, like a fly in amber, or about being stuck in tar, or goo, feeling gross but you can’t move.

So, I’m still going. I’m not going to stop. Sometimes it gets hard, especially since the subject matter I’m working with is so personal, but that’s just my reality. I chose to work with this content, and I’m going to continue.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my process and how I work on a few things at once. The way I see it, I’m building up an archive. Trauma, in all of its forms and not just childhood sexual trauma, is complex. I don’t think it is possible to cover its complexities in just one rendition of an idea. I mean, look at Boltanski’s work: he makes so much work and it all fits together like a messed up puzzle. I’m confident in what I’m doing, in this process of mine that seems all over the place, because I know it’s not. I’m confident in this fact.

Everything I make informs other pieces. The portraits, the razor blades, the videos, the sheets… Sure, they could exist by themselves, but all together they create a story, an archive about the complexities of the topic I’m dealing with. I may be a first year graduate student, I may not know what I’m doing sometimes, but my process is something I am 100% confident in, and I’m proud of that.

So, don’t stop. I won’t either.