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Charlotte Cotton


FOCAL POINT Q1.15 Interview: Elizabeth Moran

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 find an art "career" something hard to define. So many of us do other things ("labor," as Charlotte Cotton defined it for me) to support our "work." And inevitably, the labor that enables the work, influences the work to some degree. In my case, the most pivotal experience of my career thus far was when I stopped making art. I didn't know what an art career looked like (and who does, really?), so I took the best paying creative job I could find: art director for an advertising agency. It allowed me to afford to stay in New York, to pay down my student loans, and to still work in a creative field. I did well. And a career in advertising has well-defined job titles, timelines for raises and promotions, and end-goals. But I got bored with the clear-cut career path that I saw before me: I knew exactly where I would be in 2, 5, 10, even 20 years. I began teaching on the side (at NYU and ICP), and slowly began making my own work. That work led me to graduate school (the best gift I've ever given myself), so I could further pursue my research interests (through making and writing), and here I am now.


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

Having finished graduate school less than a year ago, I am more than happy with the progress of my career at this point. I have a full plate of exhibitions, residencies, collaborations, writing, teaching, etc., and I am lucky to have such a strong supportive and generous group of mentors and colleagues. I look forward to a future of twists, turns, and surprises. I believe that is both the challenge and reward of a career in art—there is no formal path to follow and no checklist to tick off.


What are your goals for 2015?

I hope to pick up writing again more seriously and to further incorporate it into my practice. I also plan to continue to experiment with audio—I enjoy how the process of collecting and editing sound is so similar to making photographs. I also just began my residency at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, so I'm excited to see what my early experiments will grow into over the next 6 months. After having spent the last several months finishing work for exhibition at NYU, I'm happy to be back in the darkroom and in my studio making a mess again.