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Photography Now 2017 – Zora J Murff

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.

ZORA J MURFF – http://www.zora-murff.com/

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Zora J Murff: Levi at 15, 2015

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?

I am from Des Moines, IA, and have been practicing photography professionally for about five years. I began taking photographs as a hobby, and completely fell in love with it. I decided that is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing, so I enrolled in a BFA program. I am currently in my final year as an MFA student.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

I started my series Corrections while I was completing my undergraduate studies. I was enrolled in an Advanced Photography course and we were tasked with making a cohesive body of work. I was employed by a juvenile detention facility at the time, and decided to make my series about the kids and their experiences in the system. The series as a whole uses photography as a way to reflect on stigmatization and perception through how we look at and judge individuals contextually. One of the pieces, Lucas at 15, depicts a young man on his bike, his head resting on the handlebars. All of the portraiture that comprises the series was a collaboration between me and the person depicted. I was required to keep kids’ identities anonymous, and so I always approached making images of them in a way that would keep their personhood intact, while highlighting their unique personalities. Lucas, which is a pseudonym, was always building bikes from scraps and traded parts. He was very talented at this, and was a skill he took pride in. We talked about what the bikes meant to him, and he saw them as a symbol of freedom and independence. Given that he was in a system designed to strip him of his individuality and freedom, We thought his static posture juxtaposed with a symbol of mobility made a strong statement about the growing pains of adolescence and the stagnation he felt while on probation.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?

The juvenile criminal justice system is all about distance. When kids are incarcerated, they are physically distance from their family, friends, and communities. There is also a distance between how they want to be seen and how others seem them. I wanted this gap to manifest between the viewer and subject as well. Without context, the viewer is unable to know that these kids are in some sort of trouble, but viewing the portraits with the information I have provided makes them have to consider their own value judgements when it comes to people who are tagged “criminals”.

4. What are you working on now?

My work has shifted from studying the role photography plays in the criminal justice system to how images are used to establish and reinforce stereotypes of African-American individuals to justify oppression. My current research focuses on redlining: unfair housing policies implemented by the federal government. These practices were predicated through systemic white supremacy, and I use photography as a way to interpret them as a form of unseen violence. I represent this dire societal issue through photographing the landscape and architecture of redlined neighborhoods, those who inhabit them, and by referencing the tumultuous historic violence spurred by racism that has often affected these places.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?

A successful self-portrait.


General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars AndersonSarah AnthonyBen ArnonSandra BacchiJohn BarnardEmily BerlAdam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-CuenOrestes GonzalezTamar GranovskyAlejandro Loureiro LorenzoJeanette MayZora MurffLaurie PeekCeaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (issuu.com).

Photography Now 2017 – Christopher Paul Brown

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.

CHRISTOPHER PAUL BROWN – www.christopherpaulbrown.com

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Christopher Paul Brown: Katrin as Japanese Girl at Futuristic Store, 06-30-2016

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?

I was born in Dubuque, IA, and moved to an area 50 miles NW of Chicago at age eight. I got my first camera at around age 9. At age 22 I got serious and bought a quality 35 mm and taught myself darkroom techniques. While I have been active in music and film since my teenage years, photography remained my primary solitary art. In 2014 I began shooting with models and simultaneously let go of music and video in order to concentrate on the creation and promotion of my photography.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

Model Katrin Dohse and I went to a semi-abandoned open air warehouse near my home. Beneath one of two unwalled but roofed structures we shot with the intention of capitalizing on the polarity of obscure/reveal. As Katrin twirled amidst stacks of crafted wood on a dirt floor, she held in her hands a silk shawl. I shot rapidly with a shutter speed just slow enough to allow some blurring. I find that using polarities, such as intent/openness and obscure/reveal, allows alchemical energies to be released. Serendipity and syncrhonicity begin to manifest. I continued with this in post-production and superimposed one image on another. Playing with layering and other manipulations I used obscure/reveal once again to manifest the final image. Often this process is largely unconscious; the end result is more like a found artifact than a planned creation of my own.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?

Because my work is subterranean and unconscious it is like a shard of a half remembered dream. Like a Rohrshach test, there are many interpretations. My ony interest is in feeling the flow of alchemical energies. I don’t bring mental or societal concepts to my work.

4. What are you working on now?

I shoot very little during the winter and use the time to catch up on processing previous shoots. At this moment I am near the end of a 9-24-2016 shoot titled Shuffling Feet. It is a sort of dancing by model Dohse, shot head to toe, but with an emphasis on shuffling feet. Much of the shooting is on a dusty road.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?

I have always wanted to shoot in zero-G with a black background.


General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars AndersonSarah AnthonyBen ArnonSandra BacchiJohn BarnardEmily BerlAdam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-CuenOrestes GonzalezTamar GranovskyAlejandro Loureiro LorenzoJeanette MayZora MurffLaurie PeekCeaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (issuu.com).

Photography Now 2017 – Sandra Bacchi

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.

SANDRA BACCHI – http://sandrabacchi.com/

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Sandra Bacchi – We Are All in This Together #12, 2016

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?

I’m from São Paulo, Brazil. I earned my degree in photography at Escola Panamericana de Artes, in 1997. After graduation, I transitioned my focus to cinematography. I worked with experienced directors of photography, first as an assistant, and later on my own projects. In 2001, I attended the Hungarian International Cinematography Workshop D.O.P., taught by Academy Award winner Vilmos Zsigmond and Laszlo Kovacs. It was a life-changing experience for me! In 2012, I moved to NYC with my family and finally returned to my roots, studying photography at International Center of Photography. My parents were filmmakers, so making images and telling stories was part of my childhood. Looking through the viewfinder of my mother’s camera was always magical and mysterious to me. When I was 19 years-old, she gave me her camera and I discovered that photography was not only my passion, but also my way to relate to the world around me.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

We Are All in This Together explores the characteristics of different individuals and the relationships between them while sharing the busiest public spaces in New York City – the subway trains. I’m fascinated by the thin line that divides what is public and what is private in a public space. We Are in All This Together #2 piece, for instance, emphasizes the commonalities between genders and in the everyday behaviors of people commuting in the subway. The pictures were taken without the subjects’ knowledge, in order to achieve the desired spontaneity. I used the camera on my mobile phone to blend more seamlessly into the environment. I took close to 3,200 pictures, during a six month period. The idea of not revealing the faces and to have a respectful ethnology point of view was always planned; but, most other decisions were made while I was editing the images each week. Along the way, I refined the “rules” I used while shooting, such as my position in the train, the times of the day and the week, and the color of the trains’ seats. I learned to wait for the moments when the train was not moving, in order to achiever a sharper image. But the serendipity was my strongest ally for sure! Typology was definitely the best way for me to share my view. Sequencing and processing the photos were the most challenging part of the process.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?

By focusing on the lower portion of the subjects’ bodies, I directed the viewers’ attention to body language and physical details, revealing a glimpse of each subject’s personality. By doing that, I intentionally help the viewers to disconnect from the more natural habit of assessing others by their faces.

4. What are you working on now?

I am editing and processing a work I photographed over the summer in Hungary. It’s about my search for my identity and my origins, tracing a connection between my childhood and my daughters’ childhood. My father was Hungarian and going back to where he was born helped me make peace with his death. I am also editing new photos for the Watermelons Are Not Strawberries series and started a research on a new project about self-identity.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?

When initially pursuing photography, my dream was to become a National Geographic photographer. I wanted to travel the world capturing its people, places and nature. Even though I pursued my personal dream of traveling, my professional career went to a different direction.


General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars AndersonSarah AnthonyBen ArnonSandra BacchiJohn BarnardEmily BerlAdam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-CuenOrestes GonzalezTamar GranovskyAlejandro Loureiro LorenzoJeanette MayZora MurffLaurie PeekCeaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (issuu.com).

Photography Now 2017 – Jeanette May

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.

JEANETTE MAY – http://www.jeanettemay.com/

See interview...

Jeanette May – Red Phone, 2016

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?

I grew up in a small town near Chicago, IL. As an undergrad I studied painting, but quickly fell in love with the immediacy (compared to painting) of photography. I went on to earn an MFA in Photography from CalArts. Although I work exclusively in photography now, I function more like a painter.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

I began the Tech Vanitas photo series in order to address our anxiety around new technology and love for beautifully designed, obsolete technology. I gather an ever-expanding collection of commonplace technology and arrange them into precarious still lifes. I use strobe lights and digital photography to capture a coffee percolator and film camera teetering atop a shiny boombox that spews magnetic tape across the keys of an Underwood typewriter. My background in painting is clearly evident in my reference to 17th Century Dutch vanitas paintings, including the quality of light and color in my photos. At the same time, the compositions and artfully designed arrangements hint at contemporary product photography and advertising imagery. Finally, these photos are filled with nostalgia for old technology and yearning for the latest must-have enchanted objects.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?

I don’t see my work as dystopian…filled with anxiety, yes.

4. What are you working on now?

I continue to work on the Tech Vanitas project. I’m still borrowing, renting, and occasionally buying, objects to photograph. I recently changed my format from vertical stacking to horizontal tumbling disarray.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?

I have no answer to this question.


General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars Anderson, Sarah Anthony, Ben Arnon, Sandra Bacchi, John BarnardEmily Berl, Adam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Orestes Gonzalez, Tamar Granovsky, Alejandro Loureiro Lorenzo, Jeanette May, Zora Murff, Laurie Peek, Ceaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (issuu.com).

Photography Now 2017 – Ceaphas Stubbs

Artist Interview

This is an open series of interviews with the artists in the Photography Now 2017 exhibition.

CEAPHAS STUBBS – http://www.ceaphas.com/

See interview...

Ceaphas Stubbs – Tongue Tied, 2014

1. Where are you from, and what is your background in photography? How did you get into photography?
I am from New Jersey. My background in photography has always been connected with my background in painting and sculpture. I got into photography my Junior year at Rutgers University when I took Photo I as an elective. I was drawn to photography because I realized there were things I could do faster and more efficiently in this medium versus painting or sculpture.

2. What inspired you to make the work in Photography Now 2017? What is the work about? Please describe one piece, the evolution of the concept, and the process?

The work is inspired by a variety of interests:

1.) My interest in photographing transparent objects, and being able to see something but not see it simultaneously.
2.) Paint as a material, using it to apply color to an object but also being aware of its physical presence.
3.) My interest in queering the body, and using the body simultaneously as a figurative and architectural element.

3. Much of the work in Photography Now 2017 seems to describe a distance between the subject and the viewer, a disconnection, and/or a dystopian situation. How do you think your work relates to these ideas?
I disagree with the first half of the statement: My work encourages viewers to become active participants. Objects, symbols, and other elements are used as entry points into an otherwise abstract tableaux. The tableaux deeper meaning the more the viewer is invested. In regards to dystopian situations, I think my work operates with a Heterotopian realm in which the spaces have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye.

4. What are you working on now?
I am currently a resident in the Paul Robeson Express Newark Program at Rutgers Newark. During my fellowship, I am working on a series of small-scale transparent and translucent sculptures, while editing a series of photographs from a previous residency and also shooting new images included in the same series.

5. What is the one photograph you always wanted to make but never could?
I have always wanted to make photographs that were well over 100 inches like Andreas Gursky.

 


General exhibition information:

Photography Now 2017
November 4, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Juried by William Ewing

Featured Artists: Lars AndersonSarah AnthonyBen ArnonSandra BacchiJohn BarnardEmily BerlAdam Bernard, Christopher Paul Brown, Tianqiutao Chen, Jennifer Garza-CuenOrestes GonzalezTamar GranovskyAlejandro Loureiro LorenzoJeanette MayZora MurffLaurie PeekCeaphas Stubbs and Ayumi Tanaka.

See full exhibition information or exhibition guide (issuu.com).