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.
I started photography late in life. I was interested in documentary photography, specifically live theater and the performing arts. I was especially passionate about documenting the creative process of performers, directors and people involved in stage work. Initially self taught, I later decided to fill the gaps with workshops and independent study courses at photography study courses at a Junior College, which provided me with the essential feedback from mentors and peers. My early inspirations were Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and my mentor Peter Feresten. My favorite medium was black and white photography and traditional dark room printing.
A pivotal moment for me was in 2004, when I volunteered to work in Krakow Poland at a former Nazi labor camp. This sparked the idea to find living Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. For nearly a decade, I became deeply involved in the subject of presence and absence, of Jewish life in Eastern Europe today. It also gave me the time and space to feel what being a second generation to Holocaust Survivors means.
I also attended portfolio reviews and workshops to escape my solitary life in the darkroom and in my studio and to immerse myself in the wider photography community, both reviewers and fellow photographers. I responded to calls for entry and entered competitions to get my work around and attempted to use the feedback, both negative and positive, in a constructive way.
Another pivotal moment was at PhotoLucida 2009. My work began being recognized widely, and I felt that it transformed into a stronger and more cohesive body of work. I continued this a few more years with my goal being to complete this project and to publish a book.
If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?
I would be a source for young photographers to mentor and teach.
I would be teaching photography workshops in the United States and abroad.
I would have 1-2 more completed bodies of work and books published.
My entire body of work from Eastern Europe would be acquired by a museum.
I would have exhibitions in reputable museums in the United States and abroad.
I would have gallery representation in the United States and abroad.
My work would be featured in nationally and internationally reputable publications periodically.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
- To have a clear idea about my next project, the scope of the work, and the photographic language, which I will use.
- To learn one or two new photographic skills.
- To tour my new book and have scheduled talks and exhibitions for the next 2-3 years.