When I attended ASU, my wife Vesna and I caught a show at the museum of the fabrics professor Mark Newport. Mark’s work features mainstream comic art and concepts in new ways– he knits actual costumes and is photographed wearing them or in process of creating them, and he crochets on actual comic covers.
Partly because of my love of comics and partly because Mark is so cheeky and damn good at his craft, the show has burned brightly in my mind for years, and I’ve long wanted to work fabrics into my photos as a mixed media piece somehow. My wife Vesna, who does fabrics, has long lamented we hadn’t done a true collaberative art piece, so we created a shoot with model Hattie Watson with more than a bit of miming.
We’re still in the process of creating final images, but I’m already getting new ideas for refining the concept and exploring more stitched environments.
Phoenix Art Museum is currently hosting a show of two people influenced by Edward Weston- his son Brett and his ex lover Sonya Noskowiak. It’s all large format work, and just to drive the point home, they have one of Brett’s gigantic view cameras and actual film (both negative and positive) on display.
I love large format. It’s so goddamn hard to work with. I tried shooting animals with a 4×5 and of course it didn’t work, unless they were skeletons. I recently tried a model shoot with one and the model didn’t get that one cannot move from their spot at all during the process of composing, focusing, setting the shutter, inserting the film, and tripping the release. Even experienced people aren’t used to that laborious process, although it’s not so much the model’s fault as my dog distracting her with a tennis ball.
Back to the show, Sonya was represented by portraits of creative types– truly not my thing, so I’m not qualified to judge her work– and Brett had more variety with landscapes and abstracts. I hate to quantify their work with those generalizations, so a googling of work would be in order. The focus seemed a celebration of the process and the relationships to Edward, but some images do stick out in my head, particularly the graphic impact of Brett’s abstractions. Clouds are like lava lamp blobs, sand dunes are sound waves, villages are shattered paintings.
Any inclusion of design elements gives me a cornicopia of ideas on how I would like to portray fashion or travel or documentary photography. A great work of art should be able to represent something beyond itself, and have some room for interpretation by the audience, and that’s what I love about Brett’s work, perhaps more than his famous father.