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Ansley West Rivers

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FOCAL POINT Q4.14 Interview: Ansley West Rivers

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 feel the entire arc of my career as an artist has helped shape where I am today.  The struggle to continue making work daily, regardless of changing situations has been very important in shaping my own practice.  I have always put my practice first by scheduling all other jobs and appointments around my studio time.  As an artist, I feel like the largest hurdle is preserving your practice.  I learned early in my career that I needed to look at my studio time as sacred in order to ensure that I create space in everyday to make work. 

After undergrad, I worked for many years as an artist before going back to graduate school for my MFA.  Graduate school was pivotal to my career in many ways.  It pushed my work beyond what I had been making and made me think deeper about my concepts.  I was regularly challenged by my peers and professors, sometimes to the brink of tears, but necessary in my pursuit to move forward with my work.  The conversations around my art through the graduate program were integral to the work I am making now.  I developed the toolset and vocabulary necessary to create a stronger foundation for my own practice as I moved out of the cocoon of graduate school and back into making work alone. 

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

I would have established relationships with integral people in the art world that would facilitate showing my work to the world.  I am constantly trying to connect to people to ensure my work is seen and supported.  I strive to build a community around my artwork so that the conversation around my work does not become stagnant.  I continuously seek the support of my peers, curators, institutions and other interested parties to further develop my work and push myself as a maker. 

If I were exactly where I wanted to be in my current project, Seven Rivers, it would be completely funded for travel and book publication.  I would have guaranteed show dates for the photographs and maps as I would like the project to travel to galleries, Universities and community centers.  I would be working with scientists, writers and other experts on water to create further conversation and material around the project. 

What are your goals for 2015?

My goals for 2015 are to finish the majority of the Seven Rivers. By the end of the year, I would like to be working towards a book and securing avenues of presentations.  I have made a schedule for myself in order to keep myself on track to obtain these goals.    

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