Monday, January 26, 2015

Leslie Hall Brown

Leslie Hall Brown is a photographer and storyteller whose work focuses on her personal experience of the world, including her actual dreams. She draws on the enchantment of her childhood, having grown up in the Capital of Five Civilized Tribes surrounded by a rich American Indian culture and on her adult life as a psychotherapist and art therapist. Her close relationship with nature and animals is a constant underlying theme in her work.

Hall Brown holds a B.F.A in Photography and graduate degrees in Counseling and Social Work. She was a recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, a finalist in The Clarence John Laughlin Award and received 1st, 2nd, 3rd places in Prix de La Photographie Paris. Portfolios of her photographs have been published in magazines including Shots, Photo Review, PhotoNews, New Letters, PH and PhotoWorld. Her work has been exhibited in the US, Germany, Mexico and Spain and received numerous national and international awards.

Born in Oklahoma, Hall Brown currently resides on a small farm in the Missouri Ozarks. She taught photography in the Art and Design Department at Southwest Missouri State University for many years along side her husband and fellow photographer Alan Brown before returning to graduate school in the mental health field and entering private practice.

Artist Statment: Cirque du Psyche

As a psychotherapist, I deal frequently with clients’ dreams and thus I wanted to create a series having to do with the psyche, in hope of plumbing inner demons and presenting them as do our dreams, in palatable, albeit confusing imagery. Cirque du Psyche combines matters of the psyche with that of the circus of days past. It is a dark place in which dreams reveal the inner workings of one’s demons and hold up a mirror reflecting back the unresolved issues as scenes from a circus peopled by anthropomorphized performers. 

Thomas Moore said in his book Care of the Soul, "Carnivals and circuses attract that element in the psyche that craves symbolic and dreamlike experiences". Before television and Hollywood the circus was a place to be entertained and shocked. Our greatest fears were played upon in tantalizing ways and we gladly submitted to being tricked. Like our dreams and nightmares, reality was twisted in strange and seemingly unbelievable ways. Yet there was enough grounding in reality to hook us and pull us in. The stuff of our waking life takes on many forms in our dreams, in our subconscious’ effort to show us what we are avoiding and ignoring. Each ‘circus act’ was constructed and then photographed. The images are marred as are our psyches, showing the signs of our history and aging. When one visualizes images from their dreams, they are often dark and confused, sometimes color, often black and white. They appear as vignettes, things fading in and out of focus and presenting layers of symbolism and metaphor. Each act in Cirque du Psyche is a visual metaphor for a psychic struggle.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jennifer B Thoreson

Jennifer B Thoreson is a young visual artist creating staged imagery that is both artistically stylized and meticulously crafted. Drawing inspirations from themes of faith and the intricacy of personal relationships, Jennifer is a dynamic and emotional illustrator of the human heart. With an innate ability to plumb the antique, the work is soulful; seeking the use of the forgotten or discarded, heavily symbolic, eerie and quiet.

Raised in a spiritual and conservative home in rural Texas, Jennifer grew up imaginative, curious, and experimental, and has used her upbringing in her intensely personal artwork to bring insight and awareness using heartfelt, acutely mapped personal experiences.

Jennifer is currently working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She holds an MFA from the University of New Mexico. Alongside varied private portrait commissions, she is an international speaker and lecturer whose programs are sought after year after year by many professional public and private photographic organizations. Jennifer published her first monograph, Medic, in 2012. She has just completed her latest major body of work entitled Testament, a series of twelve images exploring love relationships and heavy burdens they sustain. Jennifer’s work has been a part of many group and solo exhibitions, and is represented by several major galleries across the country.

Artist Statement: Testament 

In my work, I revisit themes of human fragility, pain, and eventually, recovery. I am attracted to vulnerability, to peeling back a skin that reveals something precious, dark, and insistently tender. I am compelled by the moments where people are on an edge, barely laced together, befriending disaster, remembering something, or exposing something.

I am curious about how relationships survive, why they dissolve, how people love one another, and how such love is expressed. In this work, I am investigating heavy burdens and how we carry them. I am interested in the spiritual labor of bearing weight, submission, futileness, and persistence.

To create the work, I rented an empty house for a year, and transformed it into a makeshift sanctuary, a freighted space for constructing the photographs. I fabricated sculptural objects for each image, using materials such as wool, linen, clay, human hair, and beeswax. The materials borrow symbolic language from the Bible, and create alter-like, fleshy masses. The house reminds me very much of my childhood home, and provides a weighted, sentimental foundation for the images. Every object used in the meticulous staging of each scene references my childhood, and a time of spiritual emergence in my life. I imagine the house as a gateway, the space just before crossing over. The people in the photographs are in the final phase of bearing weight, moments away from finally laying it down. I am seeking the moment of relief, and relishing in the moments just before it occurs.

I like to know and feel the moment where people fall apart, and saturate my work in it. I want to push at a breaking point, and hold out hope for restoration. These photographs are representations of quiet, ultra-still, delicate moments of raw humanness; the phase just after a laboring, aching fall and at the point when renewal inevitably begins.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Heather Evans Smith

From the series, Seen Not Heard 

Heather Evans Smith is an award winning fine art and conceptual portrait photographer based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her work captures both the everyday and the whimsical, telling stories of women and struggle, reality and the surreal. Smith’s work has been featured in solo and joint exhibitions, magazines, literary journals and online publications. Recently, she was chosen as a winner of Ron Howard’s Project Imaginat10n and one of the Critical Mass Top 50 of 2014.

Artist Statements

From the series, Seen Not Heard 

Seen Not Heard

For the past few years I have been creating images to express the emotions of motherhood. My daughter has never been included in those images. But as she has grown from a baby into a force of nature all her own, I was drawn to pull her into my world of conceptual photography and explore our relationship during a time when emotions of love, stress and confusion are high.

Seen Not Heard takes its title from the Old English adage “To Be Seen and Not Heard”, a term often thrown about in reference to the desired behavior of children. These images are silent, but they create a voluble visual narrative on the relationship between parent and child. They explore the cycles that are passed down through generations and the tension between keeping to what is known and forging a newer, and perhaps stronger, path. As strong as the close, forever bond between mother and daughter is, there also exists a distance inherent between two different individuals.

From the series, The Heart and The Heavy

The Heart and The Heavy

Life is full of stories – some deeply personal and specific, others universally relatable. My story is beautiful and complicated and bittersweet and hard. Life is just that way. So are photographs.

The birth of my daughter was life-changing, but not in the way I expected. Though there has been no greater joy for me, the responsibility of another life has proven to be at times a heavy load. Thinking about this in a literal sense, I imagined a heavy home on my shoulders, yet held tightly with love – a burden and a joy, a challenge and a reprieve. This became the first image in the series The Heart and the Heavy.

From there the stories evolved, just as my life has. The genesis of an image comes from moments of life, like a still from an old movie. Movement and pain and the simple joys of being alive are frozen in time – a study of fictional worlds based in reality. Compelled to shoot these stories, I am haunted for days and months until it is released in an image. Telling someone’s tale in a world not quite like our own.


From the series, Seen Not Heard 

Ashley Kauschinger: The Heart and The Heavy and Seen Not Heard both explore emotions associated with your daughter. How did these two bodies of work come about and develop? Did one grow out of the other? How are they connected and different?

Heather Evans Smith: At the end of 2011 an image kept entering my thoughts of a woman in a field, house strapped to her back, holding it tightly with love yet with so much weight. That vision became the first image in the series The Heart and The Heavy. My daughter at that time was two and I was experiencing some of the most powerful emotions that I had ever felt: love, connection, stress, heaviness. For the rest of the series I explored different emotions through images of myself and others. After two years of working on the series I was ready to approach something different. My first inclination was to take some of my previous The Heart and The Heavy ideas and try them with a child. I wanted to see how the image changed with a simple change of age. That idea morphed into using my daughter as a model and exploring the parent/child relationship through conceptual imagery.

From the series, Seen Not Heard 

AK: What brings you inspiration?

I am inspired by many things: a song lyric, a vintage item of clothing, an emotion, daily life, an old movie. I keep my mind open to new ideas and immediately jot them down. Sometimes I will shoot these images right away and at times it may take years for the timing to be right.

From the series, Seen Not Heard 

AK: How do you go about constructing narratives within your images?

Some ideas are specific at the time of the shoot and others tend to reveal multiple layers after the photograph has gone out into the world. I tend to think about the idea or emotion I want to express first and then how I can show that visually in the photograph. This can also happen in reverse order. When I stumbled upon a vintage hand-painted puppet theatre, I had no idea what I would use it for. That prop started the brainstorming that later became the image, The Roles We Play.

From the series, The Heart and The Heavy

AK: What technical approach do you take in your work? 

In The Heart and The Heavy series I wanted the images to look as real as possible, so everything is there at the time of the shoot. For the image Collide, instead of photoshopping the beach balls in later, I had 4 friends throwing balls at different heights in the background. Photoshop is definitely involved to a degree but all the details are originally in the frame for a realistic look. Most of the images are shot at 16mm for a cinematic feel.

For the series Seen Not Heard the approach is simpler. I shoot in the darker rooms of my house with open windows to create a more painterly light. Since the images are of my daughter, the series is more personal and shot closer with a 35mm prime lens.

From the series, The Heart and The Heavy

AK: How do you think about the balance of life and being an artist?

It is difficult being a full-time mom and artist. I don’t get to go out and shoot on a whim. Though limited, my time dedicated to my art is used wisely. Luckily with Seen Not Heard I am not searching for a certain sliver of time to shoot with a model or in a specific location, for my model and location is within my home. This isn’t always going to be the case, however, it has been nice to bring my daughter into my world of photography.

From the series, The Heart and The Heavy

Monday, January 5, 2015

Joli Livaudais

Anima (detail), eighteen 16" x 16" panels, total size of 96" x 48"
Aluminum, resin, and inkjet photographic print on Kozo paper

Joli Livaudais received her BA and MS in Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington before establishing herself as a freelance commercial photographer in Dallas, Texas. Livaudais received her MFA from Louisiana Tech University in 2013, and is currently an Assistant Professor at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her fine art incorporates her interest in psychology and explores the relationships between people and the constructs we use to interpret the world around us, and has been exhibited nationwide.

Animus (detail), eighteen 16" x 16" panels, total size of 96" x 48"
Aluminum, resin, and inkjet photographic print on Kozo paper

Artist Statement: Dreams and Replies

My artwork is an expression of my search for insight. The photographic compositions are inspired by my unconscious mind, through journaled dreams and free writing. They are my meditations on a universe and existence that is exquisitely beautiful, perfectly synchronized, and uncompromisingly merciless. I find that my carefully weighed conclusions about the human condition challenge me more than they provide any meaningful sense of safety, comfort, or promise of a happy ending. To exist is to struggle. In my artwork, this translates as an attention to process and labor-intensive practice. The accumulation of layers, fragmentation, deterioration, and replication are natural processes that are integral to the work and the meditation of creating it. Although the nature of the work lends it a timeless quality, I choose to use contemporary and experimentally combined materials including resin, photographic ink jet prints, aluminum foil and electrical circuits. The concepts I am exploring are primal, but my interpretation and understanding of them is anchored in today.

Observing Jonathan (1), 24" x 24" x 7"
Plexiglass, resin, photographic prints on film, and electrical wiring with lighting

Tarot XXI, 36"x36"
Gum Bichromate photographic print on brass plate

The Womb, 30" x 30" x 3"
Epoxy resin and inkjet photographs on kozo paper
The Womb (detail)
Core Sample, 14" long, 3" diameter
Resin, gold leaf, charcoal, bird skill, dye, photographic prints on kobo paper
All That I Love is comprised of over 1600 origami beetles (Installation below)
Aluminum, resin, and photographic prints on kozo paper

The Mother, Exhumed, 42"x16"x12"
Epoxy resin and inject photographs on kobo paper

The Mother, Exhumed (detail)

Installation view of Dreams and Replies, Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans, LA

Installation view (2) of Dreams and Replies, Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Installation view (3) of Dreams and Replies, Martine Chaisson Gallery, New Orleans, LA

Monday, December 29, 2014

Brett Henrikson

"My name is Brett Henrikson, and I’m an Artist-Photographer… artist being the most important part. Photographic processes are my hammer and chisel, as I approach the world and use visual language to understand and reinterpret being. My bodies of work vary from work about intersection of life and death, classical portraiture and nudes using the wet plate collodion process, and using the physicality of the photographic object in a new and unconventional way. I am based strongly in the craft and alchemy of the process. I believe that the hands on aspects of working in the darkroom and using film or large format gives the artist a real sense of creation over their work. That being said, I live in Pawtucket and work at my studio in Central Falls in an old mill above a loading dock, where I can blast vinyl symphonies while making prints in the red warm confines of my womb like darkroom."

Artist Statement: Chaotic Forms 

I go deep into the imagination. Skin becomes metallic, and the slow nature of working in the darkroom takes on a meditative quality. I aim for the images to take on the same meditative state that the process offers me in the darkroom, a quiet intimacy, a dark beauty. Collodion is pure; it’s like having a bon fire and taking the ashes of burned branches and drawing on the sides of a cave. Some might draw running horses or portraits of man. I let the light from the fire guide my sense of mysticism into somewhere new that only exists in the ether, on the shimmering light from my darkroom trays and from behind my eyes. Now when more work is done behind the computer, working with my hands in the dark, I am without rules or limitations, and the medium is free.