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Dorothy O'Connor

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FOCAL POINT Q1.14 Interview: Dorothy O'Connor

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.

My photography career up to now has felt like a series of very small steps forward. I went back to school for photography when I hit thirty, deciding it was finally time to try to make a living doing something I really wanted to do. After graduation, I spent years assisting commercial photographers and working in various roles in the commercial realm, all the while knowing that shooting commercially just wasn’t where my heart was. I continued to do my own work on the side - while constantly learning as much as I could from those I was working for and with. Slowly I began to work less and less for others and more on my own projects. In 2008, I began to open my house and my studio to the general public for a live showcase of the worlds I had been creating in my garage. It felt pretty scary and vulnerable, but overcoming those feelings was an extremely positive and rewarding experience. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, I received grants from Possible Futures to put towards my own work and continuing to open my pieces as tableau vivants for Atlanta Celebrates Photography. I received a Flux grant in 2012 giving me the opportunity to have one of my projects included in Flux Night. This experience allowed me to move beyond my garage and for a much larger audience to view my work. In 2013, I had my first artist residency in Nashville, at The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Being given this residency was a very pivotal moment for me, not only did I have the acknowledgement of a respected institution but I proved to myself that I could create my work outside of my studio and far away from home. It did wonders for my confidence and opened up all sorts of possibilities for me and my work.

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

Less struggle, more funding. I would love to have work appear in more publications and galleries and to grow my audience from a regional one to one more national and International. I would also like to be involved in more public art projects and continue to grow my projects, broadening their concepts and their scope.

What are your goals for 2014?

My goals for 2014 are to take more risks, be as creative as possible, concept like crazy, end the year with less debt than I started it, win a grant to do at least one public art project, AND keep moving forward!

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ArtsAtl.com

Kate Koti: Bubblegum.

Katie Koti: Bubblegum.

Jennifer Schwartz is no stranger to out-of-gallery galleries. She took to the road in a van filled with photographs in her ten-city Crusade for Art. Now the Atlantan has launched an online exhibit, replete with curator’s notes and artist statements.

The first edition of FOCAL POINT showcases the work of Katie KotiDorothy O’Connor, and Brandon Thibodeaux. O’Connor’s surreal tableaux and tableaux vivants are known around Atlanta, her home base; its a pleasure to see them again here. Koti has focused on a family with the disturbing intimacy of Sally Mann and Tierney Gearon. Thibadoux’s portraits dig deep into the soul of the Mississippi Delta.

Brandon Thibadoux: When Morning Comes.

Brandon Thibadoux: When Morning Comes.

In February, Crusade For Art will solicit applications for a $10,000 grant that will be awarded to an individual photographer or group with the most innovative plan for increasing  audience and collector base, and it will soon launch a version of the CSA (community-supported art collecting), similar to the established by WonderRoot, which sells prints by local artists. In Crusade’s version, 50 collectors will pay $350 and receive six photographs over the course of a year.

Dorothy O'Connor: Tornado.

Dorothy O’Connor: Tornado.

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Walk Away With Art, Send Me Off With Love

I am so fortunate to be part of such a warm and supportive community.  The last few nights have been incredible - a small send-off party co-hosted by a dear friend and a long-time project supporter on Tuesday night, and then the big Walk Away With Art Party + Fundraiser on Wednesday night.  I am exhausted and glowing and ready to hit the road. Here's the language from the Walk Away invite, to give you an idea of the awesomeness:

Walk away with an original piece of art from one of Atlanta's hottest emerging artists and support an important arts-forward cause at the same time.  

This is your chance to party it up in style and then literally take the art off the walls when you go.  For $100 per person ($125/couple) you can be a part of this unique event.  It's going down Wednesday, March 27 from 7 to 10pm at the W, Midtown.  

Fifty pieces of art (five each from ten Atlanta artists) will be on display and ready to hit the door with you.  Walk Away ticket holders will draw a number that determines the order they can select from the fifty pieces.  (Any white-elephanting or bartering that happens after the selection is on you!)

Walk-Away-Artist-Collage
Walk-Away-Artist-Collage

Supporter tickets are also available at $25 per person.  While you won't be able to snag a piece from the Walk Away, you will being able to enjoy the party, and there will be plenty of amazing pieces of art to bid on during the silent art auction.

On deck are complimentary drinks, live turntable action, and a silent auction, which also benefits Crusade for Collecting.

It was absolutely the most fun.  Since I typically just work with photography, it was really exciting to have a chance to collaborate with Atlanta artists of different mediums, all of whom I have long-admired and in many cases can call myself their collector.  We also were fortunate to have great sponsors - W Hotel Midtown, Binders Art, Cathead Vodka and The Atlantan.  Also a special thank you goes out to Liz Lapidus PR for doing a great job promoting the event and even landing me this tv interview!

All photographs taken by the talented Joey Appie: http://www.joeyappiephotography.com

artist-huddle
artist-huddle
Stuart Shapiro from Binders and his wife check out the silent art auction pieces
Stuart Shapiro from Binders and his wife check out the silent art auction pieces
Cathead Vodka sponsored the event and mixed up the “Crusade Cocktail”
Cathead Vodka sponsored the event and mixed up the “Crusade Cocktail”
More silent art auction lookers
More silent art auction lookers
Guests could sponsor different items for the tour and hang their selection on the nails on this poster (see next image).
Guests could sponsor different items for the tour and hang their selection on the nails on this poster (see next image).
For different dollar amounts, guests could sponsor certain things for the tour. For example: “Choose the theme song for the tour”, “Put a bird on it in Portland”, “Caffeinate me for the tour”, “Sponsor a tow”, etc. (This is an image from my iphone, not one of Joey’s pro shots!)
For different dollar amounts, guests could sponsor certain things for the tour. For example: “Choose the theme song for the tour”, “Put a bird on it in Portland”, “Caffeinate me for the tour”, “Sponsor a tow”, etc. (This is an image from my iphone, not one of Joey’s pro shots!)
Each of the Walk Away artists spoke for a few minutes about their work. Nathan Sharratt gives us some insight here.
Each of the Walk Away artists spoke for a few minutes about their work. Nathan Sharratt gives us some insight here.
Rapt Audience
Rapt Audience
Meghan and I call out the numbers. Background: When guests arrived and checked in, they selected a tile. Each tile had a number on the back, from one to fifty. The number you choose is the order you get to select any of the fifty pieces of original art. So if you chose number one, you are psyched (no trading). If you chose number fifty, not so much (although with such talented artists, you would be lucky to have any of the fifty pieces!).
Meghan and I call out the numbers. Background: When guests arrived and checked in, they selected a tile. Each tile had a number on the back, from one to fifty. The number you choose is the order you get to select any of the fifty pieces of original art. So if you chose number one, you are psyched (no trading). If you chose number fifty, not so much (although with such talented artists, you would be lucky to have any of the fifty pieces!).
I shouldn’t be allowed to have a microphone.
I shouldn’t be allowed to have a microphone.
Another happy collector (with a Kevin Byrd piece)
Another happy collector (with a Kevin Byrd piece)

It was a fantastic night of art, but also for me personally, it was wonderful to experience such an outpouring of support and encouragement.  I intend to do you proud Atlanta!

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