FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter. Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them. In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.
Describe the arc of your photography career so far. (How you got to where you are now, pivotal experiences/accomplishments/influences, etc.)
I became interested in photography in my early teens, and when it came time to think about college, I decided that I wanted to study photography, too. While there I found the drive to make work based on autobiographical incidents and introspective reflection. Soon after graduating, the financial crisis hit. For about a thousand reasons, I felt incredibly stuck: no one seemed interested in the work I had done in school, local photographers were tightening their belts and didn’t need assistants, and for the longest time, I couldn’t make a photograph I didn’t hate. I didn’t want to become a person who studies art only to drop it when times get tough, but I was becoming incredibly discouraged by my future prospects.
Eventually I was able to move out of my funk. My creative block finally lifted, and I slowly started to make work again. I embraced opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills. I shared my portfolio at the Society for Photographic Education conferences, started exchanging artist postcards in the Postcard Collective, and suddenly found myself connected to the broader photography world. In 2012, I was awarded an emerging artist fellowship through The Arts Council of Indianapolis. Knowing that they supported my artistic endeavors gave my photographic career a pivotal boost. Last year, I won a scholarship to attend the Photolucida portfolio review festival where I showed an earlier version of An Honest Assessment. Looking back, even though I had been actively showing work and had support from local arts institutions, I still wasn’t convinced that people were actually interested in what I was doing. The Photolucida reviews made me realize that even though I’m still figuring out exactly where I want to be, my work is worthy of being seen.
Over the past couple years, I’ve realized that I need to meander with a project to see its full potential. I need time (sometimes a lot) to internally process whatever I’m trying to express. An Honest Assessment is now about three years in the making, and it’s still growing. 15 of the photographs are included in the summer exhibition of at The Indianapolis Art Center, and when I see it on the wall, I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished.
If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?
I want to find some kind of balance between my art and everything else I do to pay the bills (or heck, find myself in the position that my photography career does play a larger part in paying the bills, all while staying true to how I make my best work…). But overall, I want to keep making quality work that people are interested in experiencing!
What are your goals for 2014?
I want to keep moving forward in a thoughtful way. I need to continue to foster the relationships I’ve made in the photographic community, even if it’s just writing someone I admire a note to tell them to keep up the good work. I also think it’s time for me to try new things. With some encouragement from friends, I’ve decided it’s time to start applying to residencies as a way to devote a period of time to only working on my projects.