Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lots going on

Whew, it's been a busy few weeks!  I spent the weekend photographing at Open View Farm, which was absolutely wonderful.  It's hard to believe that I'm 6 months into the project.  Every trip yields new portraits that I'm so excited about, and the project continues to grow and get more complex.  I'm going to work on getting everything scanned in the next week, so expect some new photos here shortly!

Another aspect of the project that I have been really enjoying is making audio interviews with everyone who lives or works on the farm.  This past weekend, I made new audio interviews with Dan and Kyla, two farmers and all around cool people.  I am so inspired by hearing their stories of what led them to farming and the political and social implications of their decisions.  Choosing to live a life where the goal is simultaneously living self-sufficiently and fostering an intentional community is a very political and unique choice.  Interviewing them gave me a chance to ask questions about these choices and get to understand their lives further.  I don't yet know when or how I'll share the information from these interviews, but I know they're going to be an integral part of the work.  Every time I visit, I make one or two new interviews, and am looking forward to continuing to capture the oral history of the farm as well as making pictures of the ever-changing people, animals, and landscape.

Here are a few snapshots from the visit:

Violet playing in the leaves 

Lovebug the Ram 

The sun coming through the beautiful morning clouds 
(don't worry- I made a few pictures of this gorgeous light with my 4 x 5, too)

Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Dawoud Bey speak at MassArt, which was one of the most moving and inspiring lectures I've ever been to.  I admire his work and approach to art making so much and feel very grateful that this wonderful photographer came to Boston.  I feel absolutely high with inspiration and re-invigorated and excited by having heard him speak and seeing his compelling, intimate, important photographs.  You can see more of his work here.

Last week, I joined photographer Robert Siegelman at the Simmons College Graduate School of Social work, where we both had work on display in honor of National Coming Out Day, to give an artists talk.  I was showing eight photographs from The (Trans)Gender Series, one of my earliest projects.  Given my comfort level with the subject, I tend to forget that it can still be viewed as edgy or radical, even in Boston.  Robert's work deals with issues of gay male identity (and even, gasp, shows a penis or two) and apparently our work caused quite a stir during the month that it was on display.  I think we were both quite surprised to show up for the artists talk and hear about all of the buzz the show had caused.  In fact, the curators chose to put up a bulletin board for comments to provide an outlet for all of the comments they had been overhearing.  One person wrote, "I was shocked!  That's for sure," and another wrote, "Very graphic!  Not for families!"  The latter comment caused someone else to respond in defense of how the show could actually be very good for families and to question what constitutes a family in the first place.  One comment that I especially liked read, "These pictures are frank, bold, strong, and could be offensive.  But sometimes in life we need a mild form of offending to challenge our thought process and help mold our views!  In a nutshell, I LOVE THEM!!!"

I am very interested at the use of the words "offensive" and "shocking."  I would argue that both Robert's work and my own is very loving, present, and beautiful.  While I recognize that queer identities can be shocking to people who aren't familiar with them, I don't feel that our work aims to be shocking in its presentation or approach to the subject matter.  I certainly don't aim for shock value, but rather for openness and accessibility.  I was thrilled to see this kind of dialogue beginning and hope that it continues after the show comes down.

I'll post a few photos of the work, as well as a photo of the comment board, below.  I was honored to be part of that show and pleasantly surprised that queer work can still cause a ruffle, even among a bunch of Simmons social work grad students.

The comment board 

Rob's work

Rob's work

Rob's work

Rob's work 

 My work

Installation view of my work 

 Melsen, 2007

And lastly, I'm looking forward to having three photos from the same series on display at The Meeting Point in Jamaica Plain as part of the show Cut, Healed, Mine: Processing Top Surgery.  There will be an opening this Saturday, November 6 at 7 p.m., and the show will be on display through the end of 2010.  If you  have a chance, stop by and see it!  The following 3 photos will be on display:

 Self-portrait with mom, 2005

Corinne and Travis, 2006

Calvin, 2008

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