Inspiring Art Books

There are times when being an artist is really exciting, and all your hard work is celebrated, but most of the time you are working hard without guaranteed reward. In those moments, I turn to books for inspiration. These are my six most inspiring art books I’ve read in the past year:

The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

Emmanuel Guibert/Didier Lefevre/Frederic Lemercier

Part graphic novel and part documentary photography, this book tells the story of photographer Didier Lefevre’s trip to Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders in 1986. This is the only book I’ve read that gives an accurate depiction of what it’s like to work as a photographer in unfamiliar territory.  It also provides  a fascinating view into rural Afghanistan during this time.

 

Work: The World in Photographs

National Geographic

A compilation of National Geographic’s best photographs focusing on the subject of “work”. The book spans over a century of photography and shows us myriad jobs across different cultures, in stunning display.

 

The Architect’s Brother

Robert & Shana Parke-Harrison

I loved this series in college, but I had viewed the work largely online. This year I got my hands of the actual book and it completely changed the feel of the images. The story of a man trying to piece together a decaying world, viewing the series chronologically told a much more harrowing tale. Along with the quality of the photography, this series inspired me to play with props and create surreal, visual illusions.

 

Just Kids

Patti Smith

Poetic, heart wrenching, inspiring and brutally honest, Patti Smith reflects on her life and provides unique insight into the life of an artist.

 

Eleven Years

Jen Davis

A gorgeous interplay of color and light, Jen Davis’ photography series “Eleven Years” is a collection of self portraits focusing on body image. Full of quiet drama, the series provides a much needed view into the life of an overweight twenty-something. This series inspired me to create work that breaks down personal boundaries.

 

The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin

100% inspirational lecture, Seth Godin dives into the importance of making art and embracing failure. This is my go-to book when I’m in doubt or need a little motivation.

 

NOW GO MAKE ART! OR READ THESE BOOKS!

Artist Development Grant

I am proud to say that I am a recipient of an Artist Development Grant offered by the Vermont Arts Council! I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue investing in my business and art. 

To work as an artist is also to be a small business owner. I manage the accounts, paperwork, website, mailings, supplies, schedule, events, clients and then I get to make the art.  I am constantly learning new skills, some of which are fun to learn (revisiting Spanish) and others are not (Quickbooks), but the long hours are completely worth it. 

This might be a better way to describe the balancing act of art and business:

I recently attended a class sponsored by the Vermont Arts Council called “Breaking into Business.” I would suggest this class to any artist hoping to improve or start their business. I’ve been working as a photographer for a few years, so some of the information presented by our excellent lecturers was review, but context made all the difference.  My time was spent engaging with useful resources and a class full of dedicated artists. It’s always hard to carve out the time to attend a class, but it’s usually well-spent and extremely valuable - from understanding day-to-day time management to why I need updated business cards. 

To me, being a small business owner is all about consistency. The steady pursuit of goals helps me create meaningful art. 

Also, big thank you to the Shelburne News who ran an article on me

Click on the photo to read the article.

Click on the photo to read the article.

Pensive Moments with Molly

The lovely Molly O'Reilly and I spent an evening together making photographs and sharing stories. When hoping to create images that reveal private thoughts and feelings I often set the tone for honesty through some well chosen music and open conversation.  

As Molly is a good friend of mine and a therapist, I knew it would not be difficult to create an open environment. For fun we decided to try an intimacy study my friend Audrey referred me to. The study is designed to test if intimacy can be created between two strangers by asking them to ask a set of 36 increasingly personal questions. 

I'll admit we did not ask the questions in order, we are (clearly) not strangers, and our conversation definitely wandered off-topic as we tried different photoshoot locations and props. Our result: an engaging conversation that was personal and surprising. It added a great element to our photoshoot and honestly it was just fun. I'm going to play it with a bunch of my friends. Because I'm just curious to find out, "Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?" 

For the other curious minds out there, here are the questions from psychologist Arthur Aron:

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Set III

25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ... “

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ... “

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Dreamy Days

Over the past few months I've been experimenting with videography and really enjoying the process. I decided to dedicate a little time to developing this skill while I was in Culebra, PR and record some of my experience. 

Video is a medium that compliments photography, as most of the shots in this video are very similar to images I would normally create. The editing is a whole other issue of course (I'm guessing creating this video took me far longer than is appropriate), but I love being able to time the display of certain moments. Unlike photography, I feel I have more control over a viewers perception of images when timed with the music. With photographs, you have to rely on being able to captivate someone with only the visual, but video gives you a lot more to play with.

In this piece I featured Fog Lake's song "Lost Love Letters" from their Album Vertigo Indigo. Fog Lake is a one-man band from Canada that makes dreamy, experimental, ambient pop music. I love the sound and it worked perfectly for creating a reflective piece.

I've been enjoying the videography process so much that I'm designing a crash-course for myself to delve a little deeper into the medium! Friends and professionals BEWARE!  I will call on you to critique my work and generally give me feedback. Also, I encourage you to comment on this video or blogpost with some constructive criticism. Don't worry, I made it through art school so it's really unlikely that you could make me cry (things get pretty harsh in the Art Dept) - so dig in!

Special thanks to Dan Cox, Casey Blanchard, Nick Pierce and Sergio Molina. Especially Sergio, who let me film him flying!

 

Top 10 Favorite Moments of 2014

#1 TRAVELING TO ETHIOPIA & KENYA WITH JANE BALDWIN

Earlier this year I traveled with Jane Baldwin to Ethiopia's Omo River Valley & Kenya's Lake Turkana to assist her with her amazing photography and oral history project, Kara Women Speak, Stories from Women. Jane has been traveling to the Omo River Valley for ten years to explore the roles of women in the indigenous cultures of this region. Kara Women Speak tells the story of these communities through photographs and recorded interviews with women living in Ethiopia's Omo River Valley and Lake Turkana Watershed. To be able to travel with Jane, document her process and meet the indigenous women in these regions ... it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. More on this is 2015! Learn more here or here.

#2 FOOD 4 FARMERS GALLERY OPENING

Part of me is still amazed that I pulled this off, but I had a successful gallery opening! Not only did people attend, they actually bought my artwork and were engaged in learning about Food 4 Farmers. Huge thank you to everyone who made this possible, all of you are amazing! More on this here.

#3 TRAVELING ON THE T

There is an unspoken rule when traveling on public transportation: keep to yourself and keep quiet. I decided to break this rule and approach people waiting for the T or in transit and ask them if I could take their portrait. More on this here.

#4 PHOTOSHOOT WITH SKYLAR KERGIL

Opening fan mail, a fat cat, long-exposures next to the T, walking around Cambridge, shaving, and my favorite rooftop. I love working with Sky. More on this here.

#5 WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN ENGAGEMENT PHOTOSHOOT

The top of a mountain, sunset, forests and lakes, these are a few of my favorite things. This photoshoot was particularly great because Carolyn & Max chose locations that were important to both of them and we were able to have a lot of fun exploring Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid. More on this here.

#6 PHOTOGRAPHING THE GANG OF THIEVES

I spent a day photographing The Gang of Thieves. Love these guys and love their music. More on this here.

#7 FLOATING SELF PORTRAIT

In a continuation of my photography series Anisocoria, I feel this image accomplished my goal of creating a photograph that reflected the feeling of emotionally floating. This was also a particularly challenging photoshoot. I don't have an assistant, so setting up the camera (tripod, timer, fixed depth) was challenging, and then, of course, I was constantly blinded by direct sunlight and waterlogged. More on this here.

#8 PHOTOGRAPHING TWO OF MY OLD FRIENDS GETTING MARRIED

This was a really special day for me. I've known Asher & Rosa since high school (fun fact I played the fairy queen and Asher played the donkey in a Midsummer Night's Dream back in the day), and being there to document their wedding meant a lot to me. More on this here

#9 SHOWING MY FOOD 4 FARMERS WORK AT SCAA

Some of you may already know this, but I sort of grew up in the coffee industry. My dad is a coffee specialist, so along with having high caffeine content in my bloodstream after age 15, I've attended the SCAA many times. But 2014 was the first time I felt I truly experienced SCAA, as I was a participant. I spent my time working the Food 4 Farmers booth, showing my photographs, meeting great coffee people, and imagining what it would be like to live in Seattle. More on this here.

#10 LEARNING QUICKBOOKS

A better title for this would be finally learning Quickbooks. Wow this program gave me some serious headaches and moments of pure fury/depression (picture me, alone with an empty mug of coffee saying over and over "oh god, I'll never get it to work") - but after MUCH persistence and Lynda videos I finally got the darn thing set up! 

So those are my top moments!

I'd like to take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone to has contributed to the last year. I'm so excited for 2015 and I really really really appreciate all of your support.