Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gregory Crewdson : Brief Encounters

 It is not often that one has the opportunity to see the process of an artist's practice. A new documentary that was just released on Gregory Crewdson offers the viewer insight into what drives Crewdson to construct elaborate sets for the one moment of narrative. It is a stunning documentary and not be be missed.
 I love the fact that the film follows Crewdson over several years and shows the influences on his art from  his childhood into the present day. His father took him to a Diane Arbus show in NYC when he was 10 years old. Exhibitions in NYC of Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger were important in forming his work while he attended  graduate school at Yale. His father was a psychoanalyst and had an office in the basement of their home. Crewdson grew up knowing there were "secrets" contained in the office, not unlike the "secrets" contained in the orchestrated images he constructs.
Beneath the Roses, a stunning body of work, taking 8 years to complete.  I think he may have started it after a divorce (they did not go into this much in the documentary).  I can't help but wonder
how much of the longing and sense of disconnect that permeates his images over those 8 years was an outgrowth of his own pain...
The film is playing at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago this weekend. If you don't live in the city, look for it playing near you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

For the Love of It

I have recently seen 2 outstanding documentary films that I can whole heartedly recommend. They are about extraordinary people who have pursued their passions with a disregard for fame and fortune. There is a purity of intention that is really inspirational.

Searching for Sugarman is up for an academy award this year. You can see it via HBO on demand. It  will probably be available via netflix soon. An amazing story, you can hardly believe it is real.

The second film is Dorothy and Herb. It is an older film that I just got around to seeing. I am really inspired by people who work just for the love of it.

Both films were so well made with lots of surprises in them. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It Takes A Village...

I am in full swing now, dedicating this year to getting The Burn published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany and making an accompanying limited edition, hand made book that will include a unique encaustic piece. This process is an education. When I had my Look and Leave book published, I pretty much handed over the files and the Center for American Places did the layout, sequencing, editing and designing. George Thompson did a fabulous job. There is much to consider when creating a book and I am realizing that the photographer, whose work it is,  is not the most objective. Bookmaking is a collaborative effort and I feel so fortunate to have wonderful, talented people on my team.
  Teresa Pankratz, an incredibly talented interdisciplinary book and paper artist is collaborating with me on the limited edition book. I had a long conversation with her about how I envisioned the book. Next thing I knew, Teresa came up with this amazing structure that will delight the viewer. We have the broad brush strokes in place and are now honing in on the various papers, dimensions etc. It is VERY PRECISE work and Teresa is a master. Each book with have a "jewel" at the back...a unique encaustic piece in addition to the prints.  
I have also had the pleasure of working with Walker Blackwell (formerly of Black Point Editions).
He has started, with other passionate photographers (Maria HummelEileen MuellerAshley SingleyMatt AustinVictor YaƱez-Lazcano and Kate Roger) a community darkroom for Chicago, called Latitude. Walker is going to help me convert my files so they are the European CMYK standard and make proof prints for the publisher.

Then there is the writing. I started by looking at poetry I loved, especially by Mark Strand. I sent some of the poems to my dear friend and mentor, Dick Olderman. What I got back from him was....
 "What do you have to write of your life that would be what you want to pass on, as the poetic image of a glance ... and can be reached without a camera. See what comes out of you.  Look to yourself for nothing and that's where it begins.", I have been challenging myself to write more. I am finding that if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can sometimes have access to thoughts and words without my censor at work...  a  beginning. 

stay tuned

Monday, January 07, 2013

The New Year

I know I haven't written much on this blog over the past couple of months. It has been a time of  transformation. As you may know, I had a sister who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 5 1/2 years ago and the disease finally took her this past November. I have been consumed with this "sea change" in my life and have not felt much like writing. As time has passed, I am finding my energies slowly returning, hence,  an update on my creative endeavors.

I have always used the camera to better understand the world around me. These past 5 1/2 years have been no different. As fate would have it, I started The Burn project at the same time my sister was diagnosed. It has been a gift to me because I have been able to funnel many of my ponderings on the meaning  of life  into my photography.

The year 2013  will be focused on having  The Burn published by Kehrer Verlag, a publishing house in Heidelberg, Germany. The book will be dedicated to my sister. I envision it as a quiet, meditative experience for the viewer.  I have had much input from others on how to think about the creation of the book.

My first "mentor" was Joerg Colberg, the editor of the blog Conscientious. I met Joerg in the Netherlands at the Noorderlicht Photography Festival. He shared with me a few invaluable suggestions:
Never rush the process of creating a book and  every decision made needs to support the underlying vision for the book, including the design , text, papers, format etc. I must say that I was a bit overwhelmed, but it all made sense.  I am so appreciative of Joerg's generous guidance.

The next person I met with was Lauren Henkin. I had signed up for her workshop at Filter Photo  titled Turning Toward Books : Creating Artist - Directed Publications. I thought I might get some ideas for the trade book. Unfortunately I was unable to attend (at the hospital with my sister) but I did have a brief visit with Lauren, who shared some thoughts on  limited edition, handmade books. The idea appealed to me not only as a way to raise money for the trade book, but also because I have always enjoyed making things with my hands.

In doing more research on Lauren's site, I realized that she had lived in Portland for a few short years and  had tapped into a talented pool of artisans. It was at that point that I decided to think about trying to collaborate with someone locally. Immediately, Teresa Pankratz popped into my head. I have known Teresa for years and knew she had just completed a MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago.  I called Teresa and the rest is history (not quite, but is in the making)! Teresa has come up with an amazing structure for the book which includes an encaustic piece.
Form and Content seamlessly joined.

I am thrilled to have these 2 projects in front of me and will keep you posted on how it all develops.

New Year, New Projects, New Challenges.

Life is good!