June 2018 Artist Interview
Originally from Upstate New York, I started my education in the photography program at the local community college. Photo was a medium I had not explored yet, and I was curious. After being offered to work in the darkroom, and run evening open studio nights, I was hooked. I moved on to pursue my Bachelors in alternative image making processes and art history at a tiny college that has an amazing interdisciplinary program. With new methods, hybrid processes and techniques under my belt I moved to Connecticut to pursue my Masters degree. Entering into the program my work focused on joining photography and mixed materials (raw material, plexi glass, acetate, found object) with drawing. Quickly though I shifted gears entirely and went back to straight photography. Working in medium format black and white film I spent years in the wetlands with my men's size 9 waders (way too big by the way-but they were cheap at the flea market), and my camera on my back. I started writing about my walks; a nature writing prose titled "To Slow the Sinking" that made its way into publications and web magazines. My walks in the landscape were an immersive experience, as I would lean, sit or hold onto my surroundings to stabilize the camera. It was a way for me to connect. These photographs are also on my website.
My interest in the history of the medium still keeps me working in analog and historical image making processes, but I missed creating with tangible materials, so back to mixed media I went! My recent work circles back to photography joined with mixed media, but employs image making processes I have created that give nuance to historical methods. Some of my favorite materials right now are alcohol gel transfers on thick rag paper (because it can take a beating with lots of layers, sanding, and washing), Minwax wood sealer, acetate, and anthotypes. I am excited to be finally diving into some color with Nupastel and staining with natural materials.
I have been privileged to have had many diverse experiences in my life. I had spent ten years in academia running darkrooms at three different colleges, digitized archives, oversaw a 3.5 million volume monograph collection as a university project coordinator, was a college fine arts teachers for 4.5 years, and am currently employed as a Fine Art Consultant at a wonderful gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina. My work has been included in solo and group exhibitions, as well as book and web publications.
At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to become an artist? Did the realization emerge slowly?
When I was little, if I wasn’t practicing my cursive, I was teaching myself how to draw. Growing up I would save my allowance money to buy art materials I had never used before, and grew my skills and interests that way. As I grew older and pursued the arts in college, I realized image making wasn’t just a hobby it was an essential part of my being. When opportunities like running darkrooms and teaching came along, I knew I didn’t want to do anything else. I continue to make art, exhibit regularly, and am very happy to be employed in the arts.
How did you evolve your style and favorite mediums?
Experimenting with materials plays a big part in the evolution of my work. I enjoy mixing media with unconventional materials to create images, and depending on the outcome of some of the processes I create, a new body of work may emerge from it. I have moved from mixed media, to straight black and white film photography, and am now focusing on work that merges the two. Currently I am perfecting a hybrid process using alcohol gel transfers and staining with Minwax wood sealer and inks.
What are your time management techniques? Do you have regular working hours...or favorite times to work?
Having a decent chunk of time just to focus on my art can definitely be a challenge. During the day is when I go out and photograph, but everything else usually happens in the evening. I feel less distracted and can just turn on some music and focus.
Do you work on more than one piece at a time, or primarily just on one?
I am always working on multiple pieces at the same time. Especially considering I work with a variety of materials and experimental processes, it’s a way to learn how pieces inform one another, and just what the next step is on a certain piece. Having the time to step back and think about a piece while still keeping my hands moving on another is incredibly valuable in creating cohesive work and developing hybrid processes.
What would you say is your biggest influence -- that which keeps you working, regardless of all else, your most steadfast motivation?
The element of surprise is very motivating- the moment I pull the film from the reel and see what I captured or when a print lifts in the developer. When I am working with alcohol gel transfers it’s the moment I lift the acetate and don’t know what transferred, or how materials will react to one another when I start layering them on thick rag paper. Knowing that there are infinite combinations of materials and substrates to experiment with is incredibly exciting.
Does trying something new and not knowing the rules -- the boundary pushing -- create anxiety or excitement in you? (Or both?)
Definitely exciting! I think the only time it would not be is if I were to dive right into trying something new on a piece in progress and it didn’t work, instead of practicing on scrap first. Not having fear to make a mistake though was something I had to learn. When those moments happen is when I learn how to fix it. Those moments are when I develop as an image maker.
Do you enjoy having the "duality of both chaos and control" or are you happiest with a set plan?
I completely embrace the element of chance and everything that comes with experimenting with materials and developing my own hybrid processes. I often have a general idea of a kind of image I want to make, but from start to finish its usually a surprise how it will resolve.
Do you have any projects or events forthcoming?
The Pegasus Gallery in Connecticut just closed a solo exhibition of my most recent works. I am currently working towards building that collection a little more.
In the Thick of It
Pumpkin Hill 1