I’ve always identified and collected objects that have an inherent material value, distinct from and more interesting than their assigned function. I use photography to reveal how I see this relationship unfold.
My objective going into this residency was to understand how as an artist I might shift towards creating more object based work through exploring the tension of a visceral and physical materiality within the act of looking.
Why did you decide to place all of your objects on the left side of the studio?
I picked that particular studio because of the skylight in the back of the gallery and I naturally gravitated towards that part of the room as I was working. I wanted the photographs to be placed in that warm bath of light and for the brass mirror to be the reflective center of it all.
The other reason is that I wanted to shift the viewer’s gallery experience. Oftentimes people come into a space and spend a few seconds “reading” a piece—quickly making decisions about whether or not they are interested and what the meaning could be before moving on. It seems a little unreflective of the thought, energy, and effort that went into making the work.
In the installation of Blue/Black, I arranged the photographs so that speed would not be a detrimental factor in the viewer’s understanding of the images. I think of them building on one another, accumulating a tone, similar to how someone would walk up to a piano and drag their hand up and down the keys. The piano makes a sound, regardless of direction. Both are satisfying and complete.
How does that need to create a shift in the viewer experience relate to your photographs?
In my formal photographic education, I was taught very early on that the value of a photograph is in its ability to capture the “decisive moment”—the historical idea that a photograph can capture a moment or instant. Over time, I have realized that I want my work to act as the opposite of this idea. I want my photographs to be more of a slow and reflexive visual experience.
Can you tell us about the materials you gravitated towards in the show? Brass and
leather, for example.
In many of these photographs, I am experimenting in the play between absorption and reflection—effects that happen in and on the surface of materials and objects, which is also how film reacts to light to create an image. In the image of the horse’s neck, called Blue/Black, the coat is at once reflecting and absorbing the sun, making the black so very black that it appears blue. I hand cut the leather mat surrounding the image and dyed it blue about 15 times, finishing it with a light coat of black. The leather mat, like the horse’s neck, can appear either color depending on the light that hits it. The leather portrays a tension that I often play with in my work: when associated with horses it is both beautiful and slightly grotesque.
The brass piece, Cowboy Chrome, sits at the crux and turn of the installation, directly below the skylight. I haven’t worked with brass before so it became an experiment for me. The brass is hand polished and therefore has an uneven surface. This effects whatever passes in front of its surface, at times looking either perfectly reflected in the mirror or slightly absorbed into its surface and the material itself.
As a lifelong horse lover, leather has always been closely associated with horses for me. I love the smell, the sound and how it changes and becomes more beautiful with age. I’ve always wanted to incorporate it into my work.
How does the use of leather connect to your photographs?
Once I realized that my work is more responsive as opposed to a readable and digestible image, I began thinking about photograms. My discovery of using leather as a photogram came from seeing an Instagram of a leather bag whose tag had been accidentally sun-printed on the surface. This changed my thinking about the importance of the permanence of an image—it became exciting that the image would shift and change with the life of the leather.
I wanted to replicate this process to explore creating less descriptive images. Because of the ever-changing nature of leather, I found working with this impermanent image to be both exciting and terrifying. It felt like the ultimate letting go of the “instant” of photography. I felt a parallel between the stretching of time, shifting of object, and forced reflection in regards to working with leather to how I approach the slow considered reflection central to my photographic practice.
Why did you choose to include the tripod seats in your space?
I have a leather tripod seat in my house that is an object that I live with on a daily basis. It transitions easily from an object of interest to something more functional and then back again—I use it as a seat when taking photographs low to the ground. As an object, it also has a stored history as the leather continues to change over time.
The seats are very physically intense to make. The materials are assembled in a way that the viewer can easily understand and their appearance will also change over time with use and wear. I wanted something in the space that would interrupt the viewer from only looking at the photographs and to consider a similar exploration rooted in dimensionality.