Monday, February 18, 2008

Residency Summary Fall 2008

Suggestions from critiques

• Be careful of writing and lights how it adds to you photos.
• Research from women and marriage project will inform work with my mom more. Don’t see any conflict or tension in the work. Tension is only phone in documentary photography
• Who are you in this environment of Maine
• Look at feminist work. Research everything about gender between now and next residency. Notion of Identity and family relationships. Inform yourself about your universe.
• Find your position in relations to all of these issues.
• Internal Journey
• You can’t just make happy art. This is what media does. Ideal happiness, why can’t happiness be in art?

• Views of marriage: Interior, cultural, historic
• Look into the larger cultural aspects of marriage.
• Do more work just to see where it goes.
• Look at your own family snapshots for research and inspiration.
• Resolve the form and content issue.
1. Look at your loss for inspiration.
2. What are you trying to say with your work?
• Use an “unloaded” visual link in images.

• Don’t worry about finding diversity in my women and marriage project. Asking people who aren’t white to be interviewed about marriage would be a greater insult.
• Women and Marriage. Interview and Photograph women who are: undertakers, marriage councilors, same sex marriage, arranged marriage, nun etc. . .

• Bigger Prints
• Showing white is distracting
• The multi image content in compelling
• The two “horizontal” images have a darker/tragic emotional appeal.
• The family marriage shots are less impressive then the single subject.

• Less David Hockney style. More layers blending in. Small detail information begins to look like a painting.
• Photograph the environment that these women lived in.
• If you use a light box be prepared to defend the use of one.

• Stronger sense of light and place.
• Create a self-portrait in the style of my women and marriage series. Combine the two ideas of movement, light and place
• Is your point about other people or yourself?*
• Nice for your viewer to decode, revisit, and decode again.
• Do things that make you uncomfortable.
• Slow down, tripod, Portraits without person but objects.
• Photograph mother’s objects without being nostalgic because the pieces will already be nostalgic
• Layer the audio. Still have every voice be distinctive and understandable.

• Make a physical collage. Use different size snapshots, try foam core.
• If you want to experiment more with this I would definitely try not to make it happen in one picture.

Artist suggestions
Anna Gaskell Jacques Serges Sally Mann Reneke Dijkastra
Cindy Sherman Lalla Essaydi Tierney Gurnom Patrick Sullivan
Tina Barney Lou Jones Shimon Attie Cecily Brown
Mona Hatum Rene Cox Annette Menzr Anna Medita
Loretta Lucx Katy Grannan Laura McPhee Julie Blackmon
John Cage Winkur Dawoud Bay Josh Gleason
Olivia Parker SA Bachman Denise Markia Wangetchi Mutu
Starn Twins David Hockney Jenny Holzer Gillian Wearing

Mom ideas generated at the residency
• Picture to sum up my entire relationship to me mother. (Triptych, collage,)
Feelings Before:
1. Humor
2. Love, support, encouragement
3. Best Friends
4. Level Headed.
5. Confident
6. Faith

Feelings After:
1. Abandonment
2. Without guidance,
3. Loss of childhood, onset of adulthood at an early age.
4. Loss of unconditional love, acceptance, support.
5. Uncertainty
6. Resilient

• Use “unloaded” objects of mom and photography.
• Collage photographs of my mother with images of me.
• Photograph of my mom, allow to disintegrate outdoors.
• Using the inside of a milkweed pod, release as I was releasing her ashes.
• Family framed photographs like gravestones.


After my fall residency I feel that I have two directions in which to proceed this semester. I brought to AIB two projects that I wanted to take further; the first is a mix of documentary and fine art. I interviewed women on marriage and using collage with digital images in Photoshop recreated a David Hockney influence collage that represented what each of these women thought of marriage. The second project is drawn from the death of my mom. I have experimented taking images revolving around my feelings of her loss and what it means to me not only in my past, and current life but my future.

As I went into the residency I almost didn’t put up the images I had taken revolving around the death of my mom as I thought they were trivial and elementary because of the wedding dress. My first critique was with Oscar Palacio and his first response surprised me.

“I am drawn to the series revolving your mother. There are culturally ingrained stereotypes of women. The composites are interesting but things really come together with work with the mother. The wedding dress is loaded, cultural stereotypes, feminist. Be careful of writing and lights and how it adds to your photos. Research with the women and marriage will inform you work with mom.”

I was taken back with the interest in my images from my mom. I believe the women and marriage project which; I began after taking pictures about my mom allowed me to step back and give myself perspective to this personal work. But instead of using the women and marriage as a means of self discovery I really would like to dig deeper into the mother project and find out why I am compelled to do it. What am I to discover about myself and better understand?

“Load yourself with feminist work. It is about gender. You need to read everything about gender between now and next residency. Notions of identity and family relationships. Fine your position in relation to all of these issues.”

My reaction to Oscar’s group critique was one where I was please and defeated at the same time. I was glad that he had liked the photos revolving around my mom but at the same time. I abandoned that project, left it, because I felt that it was cliché. I thought about what people said in the past that it is a very loaded project to do and that most people aren’t successful with subjects that are so personal to them. I think I need to stop worrying about what people say and just create. See what happens. The following is feedback on the same project from my critique with Jan Avgikos.

“I like this project a lot. I love the text on the body it is visually very beautiful. It’s not specific as to where we are in the world. There is a lot of work where you can go here. Experiment with different times of day, dawn and twilight.”

The positive feedback on this project was like an adrenalin shot to me and as I contemplated it I feel that I have a better idea what this project is about. I addressed the project as “images revolving around the loss of my mom” but I believe this is more about my identity. A significant portion I have associated to my identity is the fact that I am a motherless daughter (and that I am from Joisey). It shaped me at a very young age and traces of it are all over me. The question is: is this project really about not having a mother or is it about my identity? I believe the first images that I produce, relate being motherless and as I progress in this work, they will evolve into my identity. Will the loss of my mom still be ingrained in these photos? Of course, but I there will be more depth into the imagery because, I am more than a motherless daughter. With that said this project should be renamed to a working name of “identity”.

Women and Marriage

Regarding the women and marriage project I feel that at this time, it is a better basis for a thesis, as that it relates to many people throughout the world both male and female. There is also a large history regarding women and marriage. Despite this, I feel I should just go straight to the source and discover the issues of identity in my mother project. If I do choose to go forth and develop a thesis on women and marriage how do I make the portraits more compelling and draw people in?

I met with Sunanda who was my old advisor and we didn’t really talk about the mother project, he did say however, that he did not know where it could go in terms of my thesis. Not that is impossible to rework but I would have to be careful. He saw the women and marriage project as a more solid direction for my thesis as long as I combined audio.

“With the digital manipulation it has been done but, to add sound then that will take it to the next step. It will make it more than a formal experiment, using the audio, listen and strategize your visual. By doing this the mode of display the medium changes.”

In a way to incorporate the audio and echo the layered images Deborah suggested the idea of layering.

“Maybe edit the audio so it is bit and pieces of various voices. Layer the audio, mix it up but, make it clear.”

Deborah Davidson spoke of choosing women for that project who are most interesting to me. This was after having a conversation both with her and Sunanda on the lack of diversity within my subjects. The reality is that I live in rural Maine and I am not claiming to represent a diverse population of women. I am guided in choosing people I know and what peaks my interest in these individuals.

Another challenge that Deborah along with other faculty and students was to figure out how to get the effective image in the younger women portraits that I have in the older. The key elements appear to be one person within the shot and within their home environment in addition to focusing on the mementos in their homes. In the same regard Deborah said that she didn’t think audio was essential if I had images as convincing as these (older women).

To shake things up for me on my women and marriage project was Jan. She was not shy about what she saw.

“I don’t like them. I don’t like the concept of putting all of these photographs together in a collage but still holding on to the snapshot. There are too many dead zones and I feel that I have to edit a lot out. Things that are clear in the collage are not that interesting. There is too much unusable information and that does not serve the subject.”

“I think you are a documentary photographer. That is the substance as to what you are dealing with here. And you are experimenting different ways to present it. If anything go back to the Hockney mode and use in a more literal sense.”

When I asked Jan for a direction to go in she suggested experimenting with physical collage cutting and using different size snap shots; try placing things on foam core. These were suggestions and of course no promise for success but worth experimenting.

Leaving the residency the general consensus was that the images revolving around my mother were more compelling to people in my critiques than the images having to do with my women and marriage project. The caveat is that the women and marriage project was better for developing a thesis. Marriage is common in most cultures and addressed in different ways, this has been a record throughout centuries.

I see the two projects related. They both involve feminine issues in general and with a focus on women and marriage. The personal one of mine does incorporate marriage but it is united under the umbrella of issues that represents the identity of myself as a motherless daughter in her late 20’s. I believe at my age and especially living in rural Maine the thought of marriage does indeed occupy my mind. Part of me could see the two projects uniting but I am not sure where it would come together.

When I talked to Deborah Davidson, my new advisor, about pursuing both of these projects this semester she said, just make sure I have the time because I will have to do a lot of work. She also said by creating more work on the mother project that I might come to some revelations. The possibility of that is greatly satisfying and I intend to evolve in this work.

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