The Collectors

Legitimately a series about people’s stuff.

This idea occurred to me years ago, but at the time I didn’t have the means for execution (so, basically any shoot I come up with ever.) I don’t know why, but this summer I decided I wasn’t putting it off anymore, and I was going to do this series at last.

And I adore it to pieces.

I love seeing what people collect and why. It is so fascinating, the things people collect, and it goes beyond collecting erasers or rocks (which are great to collect, btw.) Some have big collections, some have small, some have strange collections and some have collections of things no one has ever heard of. It is fantastic.

But hey, look for yourself:

Me and my rubber duckies are so fabulous, even Ernie from Sesame Street is foaming at the mouth in a jealous rage.

I chose the set up carefully. I thought about photographing people in their homes with their collections, but I just had a gut feeling that wouldn’t yield the results I wanted. Putting people on a white background felt organic to me– the sitter would be isolated, with no distractions, with their objects. The viewer can only focus on them and their collection, which is spectacular, to draw conclusions and shatter expectations. I asked my sitters to relax their face and not smile, something I learned from working with Jochen Gertz and his project, The Gift.

Also I didn’t want these to look like senior portraits. #bye

With a neutral expression, the focus is on what I intended: the individual and their relationship with objects.

So, yeah! These are the first 9 images, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon. I have even more of these to edit currently, but I wanted to give you guys a little background on this project.

Do you collect anything?

Happy Shooting!

Home Sweet Home: Senior BFA Solo Exhibition (plus some cheese)

The past 5 years of my undergraduate career boiled down to this one week.

I had been looking forward to it since Spring 2011. I had envisioned my senior show to be amazing, over the top, and the best I could make it. I’m so relieved to write that I was not disappointed.

First and foremost, before I swamp all of you with photos of the installation, there are a lot of people in my life I need to thank.

If you want to fore-go the cheese fest that is about to ensue, I suggest you scroll to the pictures.

My friends– for the enthusiasm they showed whenever it came to me taking pictures, whether or not it was photos of them or photos of garbage on the street. Their encouragement and support for my art has been the biggest influence on pushing me forward. I like seeing people smile, and I like impressing people even more (not even gonna lie about that– it’s so true.) So, thank you, for letting me impress you, and for saying to me, “Hey! I want my picture taken too!”

My teachers– for finding my potential and for pushing me to use it. For all of the times where I did something well and it was pointed out, and for the times I didn’t do something well and was challenged to improve. Mr. Ceresa, thank you for teaching me how to draw. I know I’m mostly into photography, but when I work with other media, your lessons come to mind (as does your sarcasm.) Mrs. Belf, there is a never ending list of things I can thank you for. The biggest thank you I have is for your encouragement. If it weren’t for you, and I sincerely mean this, I would not be where I am today and I would not be going to grad school this fall. Pointing out how I liked to work in series changed everything for my photography, and you taught me the basics for everything I know now. I cannot thank you enough.

My Mitchell– for carrying the heavy things, modeling last minute, and driving me around for materials and shoots. For turning on the generator in the woods and for making everything fit in your small car. For being the best assistant a photographer could ask for. For being friendly and kind to my friends. For hanging up the frames because the hammer bit my finger. For being the wonderful person you are.

And for carrying the heavy things– did I mention that?

My professors– for, really, everything. There are so many of you that have made me a better artist and person, each in your own small way. I can write better, explain myself with ease, take nice photographs, understand the technical aspects of my craft, and talk to my peers on account of you all. Thank you.

My Mom– for the sewing marathons, driving me around the country, taking me around the world, finding props in the basement, making costumes, filming in sketchy parts of the city, for loving me and telling me I’m amazing (and also making weird faces when I make something that isn’t so amazing,) and for dressing up as a creepy clown holding a butcher knife. It’s all your fault I’m here today. Who knew that making Popsicle-stick people and bead animal key-chains would lead to this? When I told you “I miss making art,” and you told me, “Well, maybe you should major in it,” I didn’t realize I was going to make my life out of it. I love you, mom. It really is all your fault. ❤

BUT ENOUGH OF THE CHEESE

Mostly everything I made for my exhibition had been made in the last two months, excluding my Home Sweet Home photographs. I essentially created the concept for my show around those photographs. So, only that piece and the embroidery-hoop pieces were things I did for class, the rest were on my own time.

Filling up the gallery was a daunting task. I had drawn numerous mock ups in preparation, but, of course, since they weren’t to scale they didn’t work out. I moved things around so many times, but the end result couldn’t have been better. I was so happy with everything, it was one of the saddest days of my life, taking everything down.

I didn’t envision my show to be made with different mediums, but it turned out for the better. I had traditional prints (Home Sweet Home,) mixed media photographs printed on cotton (Memory Mapping,) a video installation of home movies from when I was a kid (Documented Evidence,) a chair with a slip cover made out of photographs printed on cotton (Comfort,) and a few photographs that were weaved together (I Still See It Everywhere.) My concept was to bring the past and the present in my childhood home together, and all these mediums portrayed this idea in a different way. It was awesome.

There were a few things that were a total hit– well, more than a few, since my rubber ducky collection is MASSIVE. They were a last minute addition to my show, as was the dollhouse and the side table covered in mail. I was trying to push the chaotic feeling of being in my old house by incorporating these objects into the mix.

And yes, that is sawdust, and yes, that is a book of matches. All in the dollhouse! Humor!

The one last thing about the work in my show that I want to mention is my video installation, Documented Evidence. I had gotten a bunch of old televisions a while back for a photo shoot, and they have been sitting in my basement ever since. I’m not sure when or how or why the idea came to me, but they ended up in my show for one reason: proof. My entire concept was about how the house was the way it was, but I didn’t have any evidence of what the house looked like before all the construction began. That’s where the home videos came in. There were scenes of my house that I felt needed to be seen, to make the exhibition come full circle for my viewers.

It actually was a huge pain. I had all of these TV sets, but no DVD players– but I do have wonderful friends who lent me theirs (THANKS SHELBY, RACHEL, AND ELAINE!) What I didn’t know was that DVD players do not typically hook up to older TVs. So I became an expert on RF modulators realllll quick. It all worked out in the end, and the video installation was by far my favorite part of my show.

To see the video installation, follow this link to my YouTube.

So, if you missed out on my show, I hope this post paints a picture for you of what it was like. Thank you to everyone who helped out and showed up– having you all there meant the world to me.

Happy Shooting!

The House I Don’t Remember

I moved out of the Home Sweet Home house not too long ago, and things have changed in that house since then. It’s not the way I remember it at all. While I was in the process of moving, the photo album of a lot of my baby pictures was rediscovered. Inside were photos of my family and I in the house– only it looked completely different from anything I recall. I lived in this house before it became the house I knew, but I have no memory of it. At all. Yet, there is photographic evidence of my early life there.

I recently re-visited the house and took photographs with this project in mind. I had the Polaroids with me and I tried to replicate the composition of my house from the early 90s with what remains of it today. The thing about both the old pictures and new is that I don’t live in either of the scenes. Technically I did live in the house of the Polaroids, but since I don’t remember, I might as well never had. It’s a strange feeling, like a nostalgia for a place I’ve never been.

I created this series in anticipation for my senior BFA show (basically my thesis for my studio art degree,) and I can say with confidence that they worked extraordinarily well with everything else in my show– which I will be blogging about very soon, so keep an eye out!

That’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

This Photo Shoot was Amazing

I had the most remarkable photo shoot, and it had nothing to do with the photographs.

The shoot was planned twice. The first time, stuff happened and too many people had to cancel at the last minute, which meant the shoot couldn’t happen. This time, the tremendous effort of others made it possible, and I am honestly overwhelmed.

My friends Ian and Kaiden drove about an hour and a half to come do the shoot. Ian works full time, so he’s tired, and Kaiden had an extremely busy (but fun!) weekend at a convention, and was also exhausted. And, Kaiden’s friend, Alec, didn’t know me, never met me, but was cool with coming along to help.

My friend Sarah works five jobs, is in the honors college, and always does her work on time and to perfection. She had work later in the day, but she took what little free time she had to come pose for me.

My friend Lisa is also in the honors college, takes her studies very seriously, has a job, and is going through the tumultuous process of applying to graduate programs. She has papers and lab reports and god-knows-what else due this week, but she woke up early in the morning to get started on those things, so she would have the time for the shoot in the afternoon.

I met another wonderful person today, Sheena, who knows Ian. She had never met me, but was willing to model for me. That’s a big move, especially considering the odd things I put people through on this shoot. And, she wore high heels in the mud. That’s hard core.

So, I had an amazing shoot, because most of these people didn’t know each other, they just knew me. I had friends from home meeting college friends, college friends meeting one another, and friends of friends meeting each other. Everyone got along so well, the shoot went awesomely, and it was fun. I’m so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.

But enough with the mush. Let’s look at some pics:

Shout out to my mom for painting the boxes black. Shout out to Lisa for finding the location. Shout out to everyone for wearing tulle on their heads.

I honestly love these photos, which means a lot. Yes there are things I could make better next time I go shooting, but for now, these have my heart. I think the people in them have a lot to do with it.

Alec, bless his soul, took some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot. I love behind-the-scenes shots. I’m in my own little world while I’m shooting, so seeing what’s actually going on around me is a treat. So here are some of those:

Forever squaring up my shoulders to take a shot.

This shoot is one of eight of a dream series I am working on. I’m focusing on that theme a lot this semester, but for this particular series I’m doing something interesting in post-process. But, more on that in a later post.

Hug your friends today. They’re important.

Happy Shooting!

 

 

Somebody, Pinch Me

My life has been ArtPrize this past week, and I’m SO okay with that. On Sunday, I had a lovely brunch with donors of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, where I met some wonderful people and was able to discuss my artwork with them.

But, really, I’m so excited it’s unreal.

On Wednesday, the opening of the competition, I went downtown and visited my work for a few minutes (I really wanted to check out how busy the museum was- it was busy.) I visited a lot of the venues in Center City and a few in Heartside, and man, there are so many talented artists! I was overwhelmed once more by how respectable this exhibition is, and how I’m surround by thousands of works by very worthy artists.

Also, I saw some cyanotypes. That is the sign of my people- they are around. Somewhere. But not lurking in the shadows, because, y’know, sunlight is needed for cyanotypes. Cyanotypes are pretty hip right now for photographers. We like to think we’re meta.

I keep expecting that I’ll get used to how crazy this whole thing is, but every time I start to feel even a tiny bit complacent, something cool happens. The other morning, I got called to set up an interview. And, a few nights ago, a friend of mine (thanks, Julie!) told me that my artwork was on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press.

My work.

On the front page.

Of an in-print newspaper.

Somebody, pinch me.

My work was also on mlive.com- I just keep finding out about these things second hand. It’s like I’m living in two totally different worlds right now: by day, I am a hard working student itching to graduate. By night, I am the artist who created Home Sweet Home.

There have been a couple blog posts about my work, but my favorite article was by Rachel Watson. Her post is a great read, so check it out!

I returned, once more, on Friday with a couple of friends, and I sat in front of my piece for about an hour, just watching people’s reactions. I had one guy standing right next to me, photographing my piece, and I chuckled a little because the artist was sitting right next to him, but he was oblivious. A couple people did double and triple takes, recognizing me, so even though I chopped all my hair off I guess I’m not as incognito as I thought I was. Darn.

The funny thing about this was I was actually waiting in line at my own piece, trying to snag a few of my postcards. And no one, except one highly observant lady, noticed. And, thanks to my friend (Caroline you rock!) here is photographic evidence, because I’m a photographer and I’m all about that sort of thing:

People were standing in line waiting to get at my piece. I got a bit teary eyed, because seeing all of these people really look at my work is a dream come true. And it’s all because I took a risk. And, on the bus, I talked to a lady who remembered my piece. This experience is truly rewarding.

So, yeah. If you’re around, be sure to visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum to see my piece (and vote for it!) Also, I have postcards for your enjoyment, and everyone loves postcards, so hey, incentive. I’m also on the front, and that face may be famous some day.

Go look at the art. Get cultured. Also, the food in Grand Rapids is amazing, and all the artists are fun and quirky. ArtPrize is from September 24th- October 12th. Don’t miss out!

Happy Shooting!