Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Pinhole is a concept

Why pinhole? I am often asked that question. Why would I choose a photographic method that only adds time, difficulty, and complication to my art practice?
'Why' indeed. It is exactly this forced slowing down that I embrace. It is the purposeful placement of these technological hurdles that allows me to focus in on the craft itself, the image created is secondary to the process. The experimental nature of the method negates any control over the resultant image. The pinhole is the perfect analogy of my chosen path, one which is narrow, and not easily traversed. A rare experience captured in print that deserves longer contemplation.
Calling my self a photographer, or more specifically, a pinhole photographer is too limiting. I may better describe myself as a conceptual artist.
As I am updating the resume, I realize I am having trouble living up to the self appointed label of Pinhole Photographer. Yes, I make pinhole photographs, but I also have an interest in conceptual works. Sometime this involves performance art, certain documented actions, or elaborate installations in which the viewer experiences the photographs and/or videos. I am always experimenting, trying to discover new ways to utilize the camera, exploring alternatives to normal shooting and showing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Portraits 101

aka Never Stop Learning and Challenging Yourself

Once again, I am a student at my local community college - learning can not be stopped.

I'm incredibly lucky to have so many high quality teachers right in my home town. This is a departure from my regular routine of working by myself, in the darkroom or the high country of Colorado. Portraits, while challenging, can be some of the most rewarding images a photographer can make. And I'm only getting started!

Here are a few of my images from the first assignments. (Environmental, Studio, Group, Self and Experimental Portraits)











All photographs copyright Laura Cofrin and Valhall Arts.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

State of the Arts: Fort Collins

Alternate title: Still Nothing There. (Part Two)
Naming no names.

Flying over a flyover state.
My lack of interest in this blog is a good indicator of my opinions of the current state of the arts in ole Fort Collins. All too often, the community's lack luster reception of contemporary art makes it a frustrating and unrewarding experience for the artist. (At least for this artist - I speak for myself only.) The avant-garde is shunned, any artwork that is too unusual, too challenging, or different, is scoffed at, or worse, ignored. There is a serious lack of critical thinking on art, and a total lack of good dialogue going on in this town. Luckily, there IS some great work coming out of the region, there are many great artists in this town, and a few fabulous galleries. It's the reception of the art works, the faked interest, that undermines my efforts to expand my communications with my local audience. Why bother? There is nothing, or rather, no one there.

Further proving my point was the hype around the hiring of a new 'arts and entertainment' writer at our local paper. This has again proven to be a disappointment. This writer's youth, (evidenced by her twitter TL) and her lack of knowledge in the arts, (probably due to a lack of education in the area) is obvious in her writing.  It is a lack of respect for the discipline, knowing what it is to be an artist, how art is made and what makes a good gallery/museum/exhibition.  The in-ability to articulate well to the reading public, to contribute meaningful dialogue to the discourse of contemporary art, is a dis-service to the reading public, and has only managed to maintain the "blah", status quo of Fort Collins' art scene.

Photo by Alex Kuznetsov, http://www.calgarygemshow.com/2012/02/nothing-rock-shop/

I have not completely lost hope, however. Nothing motivates me more than a challenge. I do have high hopes for the Fort Collins Museum of Art with the hiring of a new executive director. Patience will be needed however, as it will take several years to see the changes in the exhibitions. Other bright spots in our local art scene include the growing group of artists active in promoting a vibrant art scene. It is not an over intellectualized state of mind that I am craving, rather a curious disposition, a mind full of wonder and a spirit engaged in raising the bar, expanding ideas, and through these interactions gaining a greater understanding of one's self, one's community and the world.

"Somewhere over the Rainbow" photo by Laura Cofrin, 2014
To see the previous post regarding my ongoing struggle with the local art scene,
please click here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Unsettled Landscapes, a new take on the biennial at SITE Santa Fe

I had the great experience of attending the opening festivities of the new biennial at SITE Santa Fe. This was a "radical rethinking" of the biennial model, and a rebirth for the show after a 4 year hiatus. The process of re-evaluating the biennial model was instigated with Irene Hoffman's arrival in 2010 as the new director and chief curator at SITE. With this change in leadership, there was a critical re-evaluation of the institution, and the concenus was that a change was needed in the biennial exhibition. There have been umpteen other biennials that have sprung up around the globe since the first Biennial show at SITE in 1995, and these shows have become just another venue for the commoditification of the arts. SITE's leaders wanted to find a way to create a more sustained engagement, a more art (and artist) centric, engaged platform, a furthering of research in the creative arts of our times. It was a collaborative curation, with the involvement of Janet Dees (SITE Curator of Special Projects), and two other guest curators, Candice Hopkins (from Canada) and Lucia Sanroman (from Mexico). The idea of focusing on the Western Hemisphere was hatched and the ideas for the show percolated from the artworks.  The structure of the biennial was changed into a six year process, a tri-biennial, if you will, with the next three exhibits over six years exploring the ideas behind the new title, "SITELINES; New Perspectives on Art in the Americas".
This year's theme, "Unsettled Landscapes" came from the artists' ideas, and the works, and it became apparent after much discussion and dialogue with experts and other consultants that there was a a changing idea about landscape. "Landscape is not neutral", Hopkins says, and the idea of "landscape as a form of alibi" was raised by Sanroman. There are many political and social ideas in our perceptions of landscape, including occluded histories, native issues and ongoing imperialist and colonialist issues. The curators did not want the show to be yet another colonialist gesture, and much "deep time" was spent with the works, the show and the place. This slow contemplation is balanced with the current state of urgency that is needed in the arts in all parts of the Americas. There currently may be inclusion in the art world for many artists coming from non-traditional locations, but there still needs to be an equalization across the board, an up-ending to conventions and an unsettling of ideas. This will bring the arts into the future. It's an Unsettled Landscape for sure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fort Collins Studio Tour - Part II

Non-Object Art

I am so happy to be sharing a studio space with Loretta Cummings. She is an artist who works conceptually. "Use attention, perception and time as your art materials and the world becomes your studio," she has said. Her gallery is often found on Twitter, or nowhere, or in her own presence during the action, a moment made art, through its ritualized recognition of the action.

I remember when I met Loretta. She and I both were students of Jennie Kiessling, an amazing Front Range Community College teacher. We were enrolled in a summer session of an art appreciation class exploring contemporary art. It was a fun learning experience, with an energized group of folks, and involved much traveling around our regional area on field trips seeing lots of great art. There was much discussion about the works of contemporary artists, including Piplotti Rist, Bill Viola, Marina Abramovic, Cindy Sherman, among others. This was my first time experiencing many of these artists, and what I learned in this class still impacts my work today.

After the class was over, there was a group of us that continued to meet. Our discussions, and museum and gallery field trips were just too enjoyable to discontinue. To this day, they are my biggest resource for support and inspiration in my art practice. They are my critique group, my educational resource, and my back up. I can count on this small group of fellow artists to keep me on the right path.

I remember very clearly the first group critque session we had after the class. This is something that can be difficult to find once an artist leaves the educational institution. A good critical discussion about the work is needed if an artist is to grow and expand in their work. Needless to say, seeing Loretta's work for the first time blew my mind. (See her piece she shared with us, "Post Cleaning Me - 7 hours of not cleaning" below.)She was working in such a way that I had rarely experienced in the past. Her ideas are the work, her actions its manifestation. The objects created, or documents of the project are secondary bi-products of the work - NOT the work. This was totally new to me, but I was intrigued. I too, have my reservatons about making objects to sell. Art as commodity is not really what I am interested in. To create work and sell the work for large dollars is not why I am an artist. The art market is daft, as I have said before, and I am not very interested in it as a creator. It is the creative gesture, the expresive actions that motivate me to return to the studio.

For the Studio Tour, Loretta will be performing a new work that involves the audience, a decision and a documentation. Intrigued? This will be an opportunity to actively participate in an art work's creation, to become the medium, and express your ideas in the action. Where do your values lie? What do you value more, experiences or acquisitions? It is sure to be a sweet or rewarding experience, so stop in to our studio to experience her art for yourself. Don't delay, supplies are limited. (Download the map from the Lincoln Center website.)




Post-cleaning me – 7 hours of not cleaning
 Loretta Cummings

In this artwork I spent consecutive 7 hours not cleaning anything. From 10am to 5pm I did not pick up after anyone, even myself. I did no scrubbing, sweeping, vacuuming, ironing, washing, bill paying, or financial organizing. I did not play support services to any family member.  If the phone rang and I thought that my help would be requested I did not answer it.

I wanted to induce helper mentality deprivation in myself.  What would happen if I allowed myself the sheer luxury of not feeling compelled to help anyone for a short period of time? How would I feel if I forced myself to drop that sense of “obligation to help” that defines how I unconsciously think of myself, what I regard as my reason for being here on the planet. This sense of obligation has been part of my life forever.  Every moment of every day I scan to see what I can do to make life run more smoothly for those around me. Not doing this requires minute by minute resistances to my habitual reactions to what I observe.

How would I really feel if this obligation suddenly disappeared? Empty? Worthless? Purposeless? Would I begin to scan for something different instead? How would I use my time? Was 7 hours enough to even get a sense of this? What if I could really live a life in which I felt more empowered to act on my own ideas and less obligated to take care of the needs of those around me? In my life (my perception of it anyway) everyone needs my help all the time and it is simply easier to take care of all those needs rather than doing my work. What if I gave myself the gift of all the time I wanted to pursue the ideas I have?

This is an on-going artwork that I intend to remake often.

Resistances

·       I noted that the toilet was developing a pink ring. I did not clean it.
·       After I ate a slice of toast I placed my plate in the sink. I did not load it into the dishwasher.
·       I noted that the bathroom sink was dirty with drying toothpaste caked on it. I did not clean it.
·       I noted that the bird feeder was empty. I did not fill it.
·       I noted that the cat was begging for a treat. I did not give him one.
·       When it crossed my mind, I did not go online to look at Christmas presents for anyone.
·       I made a pot of tea but I did not offer any to anyone else.
·       I saw that the plants in the kitchen needed watering and trimming. I did not do this.
·       I noted the kitchen floor was full of cat hair. I did not sweep it.
·       I noted the kitchen counter was covered with crumbs of toast. I did not wipe it.
·       I noted there were tea bags in the sink. I did not put them in the compost bucket.
·       There were two phone calls I needed to make to arrange appointments for others. I did not make them.
·       I noted the frames on the pictures in the front room very dusty. I did not clean them.
·       I noted that Mick’s gloves and keys were misplaced. I did not move them.
·       I remembered I needed to make a grocery shopping list but I did not do this.
·       I wanted to make crackers because we didn’t have any but I did not.
·       I noted that our bed was not made. I did not make it.
·       I noted the cheeseboard was left on the kitchen counter. I did not put it away.
·       Our dog was whining. I did not feed him.
·       I noted that the toilet seat on the downstairs toilet was loose. I did not fix it.
·       I heard the doorbell ring. I did not go to see who had arrived.
·       I was worried about my children but I did not call them.
·       I noted that the bathtub was dirty and the shower stall was covered with soap scum. I did not clean it.
·       I heard people downstairs. I did not check to see who it was.
·       I noted that drawers and cupboards were open in the kitchen. I did not close them.
·       The phone rang and Mick answered it. I did not check to see who it was.