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 pretty unconventional, just like the rest of my life!
As a teenager, I was training to become a concert pianist. I discovered photography in high school, thanks to the local college art library. I hid books by Friedlander, Fink, Frank and Hockney inside my textbooks, so I could study them during class. Photography offered an escape from the mundane prison of high school – a portal to faraway worlds. I taught myself to develop film and print in a 50 square foot darkroom cooperative. As soon as the school day was over, I would run to the darkroom to discover what my camera had captured. Sometime I just sat there in silence, as you would in a sensory deprivation tank. The darkroom was my sanctuary.
I fully intended to major in music at Bard College. But I was lucky enough to end up in a freshman photo class with Stephen Shore, and I never looked back. After graduating, rather than going to Yale, or interning with a famous photographer in New York, I decided to travel the world. I spent time in queer alternative communities, did social work, lived in Europe, and played piano. All the while I photographed prolifically, yet privately, showing my work to no one. I could have become Vivian Maier, but instead I went to grad school. I was finally ready to share my work with the world. Since completing my MFA, I've been putting myself out there like never before. Online platforms like Fraction Magazine and Crusade for Art have been an awesome part of this "coming out" process...
If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?
I'm at a very exciting point in my career. The great thing about being a "late bloomer", is that when you finally decide to step into the spotlight, you have a wealth of lived experience, which adds a depth and breadth to your work. So in that sense, I'm exactly where I want to be in my career. That said, I would like to be represented by an ambitious gallery, to have more group and solo exhibitions, to join more private and museum collections, to publish several books, and to have a teaching job where I can share my passion with a group of dedicated young photographers. I can feel that many of these things are right around the corner –– sometimes I wonder if I will bloom or explode!
What are your goals for 2014?
2014 has been the best year of my life. I've already accomplished more this year than I expected to, and it's far from over! I was thrilled to be awarded a residency at Hambidge, and grant from Light Work. I've been included in shows at the Houston Center for Photography, Aperture Gallery, and the Philadelphia Art Museum, and I look forward to more. I am working on a new book, and I just had a promising meeting with an awesome publisher. I would like to collaborate with other photographers, for both shooting and publishing projects. I would also like to have more editorial assignments and commissions, and so I welcome all suggestions and proposals!