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.  

The arc of my photography career has been quite an arc. I fell in love with photography in college and learned the basics of black and white photography, but my degree specialized in painting. When I went on to graduate school, I began working more conceptually; creating installations that incorporated painting, sculptural work and some photography. But I ultimately left photography behind and fell victim to the simplicity of the point and shoot cameras that were so readily available. Graduate school turned into a career that swallowed up all my free time and left little room for personal creativity and art making.

It took many years to return to the art world, and even longer to reincorporate photography into my fine art practice. I am excited my new work bridges the gap between my old ways of working and my rediscovered voice as a photographer. My current project, Reconstructing Self, blends sculptural constructions with installation and conceptual photography in one package.

The MFA degree I earned from Art Center College of Design gave me a strong foundation in critical thinking and conceptual art making. More recent workshops with photography mentors Aline Smithson and Cig Harvey have helped me find my voice and situate my work into the world of photography. Attending quite a few portfolio reviews has been enormously helpful both in getting my work out in to world and helping me understand how the work is being perceived.

I am excited about the exhibitions I have scheduled for 2016.  I will be showing large bodies of work at the Yuma Fine Art Center in Yuma, AZ in March, the Museum of Art and History (MOAH) in Lancaster, CA in May, the Brand Library Gallery in Glendale, CA in August, and at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA) in Santa Ana, CA in October.

If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like? 

I think I am exactly where I want to be right now, but admittedly, I have big ambitions! Iā€™m working toward having my work exhibited across the country and internationally, in large art fairs and significant exhibitions. I strive to make work that is brave, bold and most importantly, true to myself.

Also important to my career as an artist is the act of giving back. Helping other upcoming photographers and artists is a fulfilling and mutually beneficial experience. I look forward to being a mentor to others and welcome the opportunity to lead workshops and curate exhibitions. There are so many ways to engage as an artist ā€“ and making and exhibiting work is just one facet. Continuing to branch out into new experiences is a personal requirement.

What are your goals for 2016?

With four large exhibits on the calendar for 2016, my main goal is to make each one spectacular! I am experimenting with ideas for incorporating mixed media installations with the photographs. It is exciting to be working with some really flexible and experimental exhibition directors.

And without a doubt, making new work is on the agenda ā€“ continuing the Reconstructing Self project and developing the next series, which is a seed that has not yet sprouted!