Working the Land… and Curating

2/7/16
In September I began working on an idea for an exhibition to have in February for PhotoTapas – Arizona Photography Month! Generally, I have found with curating I go through phases of meeting people or looking at their work, and naturally I begin drawing connections between ideas and artists, based things I have already been thinking about.

For the past few years, I have been fascinated with the new food movement to grow your own, responsibly source, eat organically, and just plain give a shit about what you put in your body! It is pretty impressive to me that most people (in the US) now care, at least a little more than they did before. You go to other countries where quality and tradition are the most important aspect of food, rather than the emphasis on a bulk of production. Here, that has never been the case – we have no history or ancient traditions, just the aspiration of prosperity.

Lucy for Web

Image by Jill Ison

 

One of the artists who really made me take a closer look at the idea of how each person can change food, is Jill Ison. She is a mother and incredible photographer who I’ve known for a few years now, and she is especially gifted when it comes to photographing her family and in portraiture. Her father purchased a farm several years ago and is invested in growing the best possible food, because it is more to him than a paycheck. Mostly he grows organic oats and ancient grains, which are delicious by the way! The idea of reviving ancient grains, and recovering lost strains of food, is really cool in my nerdy brain. Jill has been visiting her father’s farm regularly and photographing every aspect of the operation, as well as shooting her three beautiful daughters in their day-to-day activities there.

Scott T. Baxter_Working the Land

Image by Scott T. Baxter

Another artist who I have been working with for some time at Art Intersection to make prints, also got me thinking about the history of food, farming, and ranching. His name is Scott T. Baxter and for Arizona’s centennial in 2012, he completed a 10+ year project titled 100 Years 100 Ranchers, in which Scott spent a lot of time alongside ranching families who had been operating in the state for at least 100 years. He made beautiful portraits of them, while also photographing what was happening throughout a typical day in their boots. This project and his experience with it made him a tremendous cowboy photographer, and it sheds light on the incredibly hard-working men and women who still move cattle, and work with the animals we usually only see packaged in the meat section of our supermarkets.

Scott lives and works at an amazing facility called Cattle Track, which was established by Philip C. Curtis, one of the founders of the Phoenix Art Museum. This facility is an artist compound with local businesses, residential units, operating artist studios, and an art gallery, of course. The gallery, which I had visited many times, seemed like the perfect funky place for the show I had brewing.

Ken & Cattle_DeGideo

Image by Gina DeGideo, with original photograph by Marvin Morrison

To flesh out the show, I included the work from my Revisiting the Photographs of Marvin Morrison project, which was an insider’s view of farming life photographed by an actual farmer, shooting literally out in the field. I also invited well-known Western photographer Jay Dusard to show some work from his collection of esteemed images he’s made over the years. In the gallery hangs two gigantic black and white cowboy portraits from Jay, and also a colorful grid of action shots he made while photographing commercially.

Jay Dusard_Working the Land

Image by Jay Dusard

Our exhibition Working the Land: Arizona Farming and Ranching Families is up now through February 14, 2016, with a Closing Reception on Sunday, February 14, from 1 – 4pm. It is free and open to the public! In the end, I feel this is a well-balanced and intimate show, invested in the lives of the people who are still doing the things we might think of as being from the wild wild west and times past.

This exhibition is also part of PhotoTapas: Photography Month in Arizona! To learn more about all of the February events happening around the state in February, visit phototapas.com.

phototapas logo b&w

 

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Toscana Travel Photies

7/23/13
Traveling to Italy was an amazing lifelong dream that finally came true for me last month. I couldn’t have picked a better a better group to go with. My lovely mentors and friends Carol and James put together an out of this world program to inspire others to live creatively. For 10 days in the gorgeous Tuscan hills we woke up to church bells ringing from our ancient castle-like home, enjoyed a morning of yoga, fresh-baked bread and espresso, then filled our days with writing, art-making, amazing food-eating, and of course a bit of vino and laughs. This trip allowed me to connect in a deeper way with many others on the journey with me, but most of all truly served the purpose of getting me back into living creatively. My batteries are charged and I have been on overdrive since returning home, but functioning on high speed now certainly wouldn’t have been possible without sweet Italy.
These are some of my favorite photos from the trip…

Benabbio Walking to Dinner

 

Benabbio Flowers

 

Book 1

 

Clouds from Workshop 2

 

Cyanotype 2

 

Wall at the Mill

 

Looking Through Lucca

 

Gato Ferocio

 

Blue Trees of Benabbio

Mill Window

 

Backyard Bennabbio

My Shadoe in Benabbio

 

Boots at Mill

Trees at Mill

 

Parlor Villa San Rocco

GiGi in the Mirror

 

Old Mill

Yoga Studio 4

   Super Moon in Benabbio

 

Glass Floor San Rocco

 

Bricked in Window

Path

…other artwork from the journey coming soon…

Keeping my Eye on the Prize

9/24/12
Back to the motherland… Italia here I come!!! Although my ancestors came from a significantly lower portion of the country (this explains the brownness of my skin after sunlight exposure,) I have almost uncontainable joy for the journey I will soon be on to Bagni di Lucca in Toscana, to enjoy the splendors mother nature has to offer and to reconnect with my inner happy/artist.

This week has been tumultuous and I feel as though the universe is somewhat out of alignment. I have no control, but am trying to keep from spinning out of control. A moderate amount of control, at least over your own mental state is usually a good place to be. At a time when the negative aspects of the world seem inescapable, I am greeted with a reminder that yes, there will be an escape.

The first informational meeting for the annual Italy trip hosted by the spectacular Carol Panaro-Smith and James Hajicek, both artists and teachers, was held last night. They lifted my spirits a lot with the details and pictures of the adventure we will be on together next summer in the hills of Toscana for an enlightening and creative workshop. If only we could leave tomorrow! The meeting last night was such a great reminder to keep your eye on the prize. Although we cannot understand why things work the way they do, it seems there is always a greater purpose and what’s meant to be will be, no matter how hard you fight it.

I cannot wait to feel the breeze on my skin as I stand on the hillside…

The Memory vs. The Experience

5/27/12

I remember fragments of this day with family building the brick wall in our family’s front yard, 1993, Age 6.

If you are a photographer like me, you must get tired of the monotonous questions, “where is your camera?” at family functions and questions of if you can take pictures of peoples’ babies or weddings or birthday parties (no offense family and friends 🙂 ). Firstly, let me say that I do enjoy looking at old photographs and being able to create and imagine a sense of the world I was too young to remember, or from a time before my existence. Memories are things that are intrinsically tied to visual images and photographs. Perhaps I am an oddball photographer, but it seems to me that the human psyche relies much too heavily on this photographic form for memory recognition.

This cubby made the perfect hiding spot for toys, lemonade stand profits, and other important items throughout my childhood, 1993-2011. This photograph was taken 1 day after the forclosure of my family home.

I know as a photographer, that’s not what I should say. I believe people expect me to say the camera’s image is a holy form of reality, while in fact it can never even be that… reality. Simply, it is a reference to a particular reality; one in which only a mechanical box can interpret. While this “box” can be a magical tool with endless other benefits, I believe it cannot replace the human body/mind experience.

I much so prefer to live in the moment rather than to struggle to capture every detail on film. I aim to feel the breeze on my skin, to create a sensory memory of the place’s smell, and to see through my eye’s lens. There is something much more spiritual and simplistic about this way of life; a unique experience that cannot be confined or recreated to reflect one 2-D perspective.

In the end will we have our memories, or the tangible objects to represent them?

Welcome to Gilbert!

11/14/11

Art Intersection is a wonderful art space new to Gilbert, AZ. This place is packed with goodies: a large beautiful gallery space, full wet lab dark room, digital photo lab, artist lounge, and lecture room. Art Intersection offers bi-weekly workshops on a variety of techniques such as book-making and digital photography, regular artist lectures, and monthly critiques/discussions for community members. There are also summer programs for children to learn a new art-making technique and to explore their own creativity.

As a member of the East Valley community, I realize that there’s a serious lack of community engagement with the arts here. For the past few years it has been a passion of mine to one day open my own art gallery/lounge/café which also gives workshops for local artists to come together and support each other. This is not something I will financially be able to do anytime soon, but I am thrilled that someone else finally also came to this conclusion. This is the reason I am more than happy to be an advocate for Art Intersection. Everyone, especially people who leave East of Phoenix should be supporting this hot spot! Sign up for their newsletter by visiting ArtIntersection.com.

Live at Biodome… Say Whaa?

11/10/11
Last semester my professor Betsy Schneider informed us we would be taking a trip to Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ. This place is not too far from home for me and I have often driven past the junction to the dome on the way to Tucson, but I never thought to visit. We were going to speak with Judy Natal who was a working artist in residency at the Biosphere 2.

Although it was not at all what I had expected, the trip was great! For those of you who don’t know (or didn’t watch ridiculous 90’s movies) Biosphere 2 was an experiment performed to see if humans could sustain life on another planet inside a dome like the one built, by maintaining their own livestock and growing their own food. The project was somewhat of an epic fail, but what remains in this space is the ability to understand other ecosystems at work and an amazing muse for contemplation of future life. The interaction between man-made sterility and overtaking nature is breathtaking. I couldn’t help but to photograph a little myself via camera phone.

We visited with Judy in her home/studio nestled across from the Catalina Mountains and on the pathway to the huge biosphere. She explained how living onsite fostered the growth in her photographic project Future Perfect. She was the creator of this residency which continues on, and explained the process of how we as artists could live where they wanted to work. You have 24/7 access to your inspiration and community interaction you otherwise wouldn’t get.

I would enjoy a residency at Biosphere 2 in the future because it appeals to my interests in land use and the desert. The spiritual connection you can find alone mountain-top has always been my favorite; now to imagine living this way for weeks or months sounds like an amazing opportunity for artistic exploration. I also love the fact that it is only about an hour drive from my home, so I will not miss out on my family, which is a big consideration for an artist with young children. If I were to live here I would love to hike daily to the surrounding unpopulated areas to work. Having a home base already atop a mountain would make view camera shooting so much more feasible in the desert. I am excited to look into this residency as a future stepping stone to creating.

Judy Natal finished her project which just went on display in her hometown, Chicago. You can see more of her work from this series Future Perfect at JudyNatal.com.

             

Manifesto!

I am an observer of the land I live in. I have strong opinions about life, morality, spirituality, and about where we should be heading as a united human race. I find myself driven politically and frustrated with the ignorance of many. My ethics of hard work and freedom for all fuels this passion. I will contribute to re-shaping the human condition even if in only some minor way.

Photography is the tool which helps me to translate my ideas. The camera shows what is real and what is possible all at the same time; it distorts the truth we all think we know. It is important to bring to light what lies dormant and this revelation often has a much bigger impact than anticipated.

My form of expression is much more powerful than words as it functions on quantum levels of communication. My work forces at least, the acknowledgement of our situation. This is only the first step to recovery.

 

Also see full Artist Statement.