- What artists influence you and how do they influence your thinking, creating and career path?
ML: It’s difficult for me to name specific artists who influence me because there are so many and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. Because of social media and online publications, I encounter and am influenced by visual ideas constantly. I love that. I also attend as many artist lectures, exhibitions, and opening receptions as I can.
As I was working on this series, I spent a lot of time looking at the work of photographers who were thinking about family history, memory, and loss as well as photographers who were photographing objects and photographing the landscape as metaphor. I was inspired by Rebecca Norris Webb’s book My Dakota,Susan Worsham’s series “Bittersweet on Bostwick Lane,”Jitka Hanzlova’s series “Forest,” and David Favrod’s series “Gaijin.”Rinko Kawauchi’s work always inspires me as well.
A little more than a year ago, I began teaching art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It’s been an amazing experience and an incredible influence on me. I’m able to absorb artwork gradually and consistently because of spending so much time in the galleries. I think a lot about how light is portrayed, about how much emotion is held in a gesture, and about how ideas are visualized. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about the artwork and the history of art.
“In The Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11” was a photography exhibition at the MFA that affected me deeply. Seventeen photographers were included and each responded to the earthquake, the tsunami, and the Fukushima disaster in such different ways - so beautifully, so movingly. The wall text with each photographer’s work was also very powerful because it included the artists’ thoughts and experiences. I spent a lot of time in these galleries yet each time felt like an entirely new experience. Lieko Shiga’s photographs in that exhibition really stuck with me and have been on my mind as I’ve been making new work.
I also love words - books, stories, poems, and conversations. And I love how words and photographs harmonize. I read as much as I can and it has become very important to me to include poetry with the photographs that I’m making. The words and photographs exist simultaneously for me but each brings something different to the story. I think of “Ghost Stepping” as a chapter, the first in a larger body of work that explores my family history and the influence that it has on me. Each chapter incorporates poetry and my hope is to compile a larger story about my family history with many chapters, each a vignette of photographs and poems.