Saturday, September 24, 2005


First of all, Alexandra Silverthorne is nifty. I finally got to meet her face to face.

Now for Secondsight:
Last night was the first meeting I had ever been to. And for a first time, it probably could have been better. I heard there are usually speakers, but there wasn’t a speaker at this meeting. So there was more of an emphasis on portfolio sharing and personal announcements. And while I think meetings like this are a good venue for emerging photographers to find allies and support, I was a little taken aback by how much professional diversity there was. We all seemed to be in different places, and had different goals, which on one level, is great, but on another level, is somewhat frustrating. Nonetheless, I’ve been marinating over my experiences for the past 18 hours, and a few thoughts keep rolling around in my head:

1. The minute you’re satisfied with your own work, and you think you’ve mastered something, you need to stop and start all over. To me, art is about experimenting and pushing, trying to see what you can do with the materials available to you. That doesn’t necessarily mean changing subjects or themes (Chagall painted the same things over and over again, and I suspect I’m moving down the same road), but looking at what you’ve done and pushing yourself to change it. Of course you’re allowed to like what you do, and be proud of your work, but a static art career is no art career. One woman who presented seemed so proud of her ongoing series, but it was 20 shots of the same thing, the same location, every week, for five or six years. First of all, that kind of dedication to a project is honorable. It genuinely seemed to impassion her, which is just fantastic. I really hope she continues with it if it makes her so happy. But I was disappointed that after such a long time, she hadn’t risked branching out. She hadn’t experimented with perspective or framing. She didn’t attempt to focus on other details besides the scene itself, like tone and contrast to make the scene a bit more abstract, or concentrating on texture, or a sense of place. To be honest, I lost interest after the third picture. There wasn’t anything compelling me to look anymore, because it was so much of the same. I’m sure I’m guilty of this too, but I honestly feel like I’m trying to branch out. At least, I really want to, but there’s a limit to how much I can do if no one will work with me. That’s actually how the doll pictures came to be. But again, with those, it was so much of the same thing. I think once I have more time, I’ll go back to them, get new dolls, new accessories, different equipment, and see what I can do. The fact is, the “Masters” of Art never mastered anything, they were always changing, adopting new techniques, and constantly experimenting. They never stuck with the same thing. They took risks. That’s what made them great.

2. Am I naive to think that thinking of others is helpful in supporting yourself? Luckily, my portfolio critique group was fantastic, we all talked about our work, not just ourselves, but also listened carefully to one another. It definitely seemed balanced. There were a few people at the meeting who were there to only sell themselves, obviously didn’t seem that interested in others, and looked for excuses to mention themselves as often as possible. Look, I know selling yourself is key, and if you’re confident enough to do so, good for you. It’s a necessary part of being an artist. But if I don’t like you, you can guarantee I’m not going to listen to you, or support you. You catch more flies with honey, and you can’t be a leader without followers. It’s hard for me to respect you if you obviously don’t respect me enough to listen to me.

3. I was disappointed that Catriona Fraser didn’t feel she could come to our discussion groups, in fear of intimidating us. It’s sad to think we can’t separate her identity as a woman who loves art from a woman who happens to sell art. I would have loved it if she had participated. I understand why she did it, and from what I had gleaned from the other women, it was a wise decision on her part, but she looked so bored! She shouldn’t be punished for what she does. I just felt really badly for her.

4. I’m not taking advantage of this city. I should really get out more, go to some more galleries and support the local scene rather than just going to the museums. Bad, bad Sam.

5. Is it wrong to want to scare little old ladies with pictures of blow jobs and ejaculation?

So I’m left not sure if I’ll go to another meeting. I think I should, just to give it another chance, and experience the real thing, complete with speaker. But for now, I want to like it, but I can’t.


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