College Series: You've gradauted, Now what?

If you went straight from high school to college, you have been in school for almost all of your life. Now it is time to graduate and you are going to have to deal with the real world real soon. Art school tries its best to prepare you for getting a job but there isn't always talk about what to do artistically when you are out on your own. In art school, you have deadlines you have to meet, teachers for advice all around, and great opportunities to participate in critiques multiple times a week. Once that structure falls away, you will need to replace it with something so that you can keep making art even if your job or lack thereof isn't giving you the motivation you need.

One thing you can do to keep yourself making work is to set up a critique group. Talk to the people you graduated with or even artists you know around town and see if they would want to meet once or twice a month to discuss new work and ideas. You could even look on social media for open groups in your area if you are new to a city. Even if you are consistently making work without need for extra motivation, critique groups are great places to share your new things and learn to articulate your ideas. If you need a push to make things, this gives you deadlines and an open place to think about new ideas without the stress of grading. These groups can also help you make connections

Once you're out of school, most likely your job will not include being around art all day. If it does, you're one of the lucky ones. Try your best to go to openings, museums, galleries, and even artist's websites often. It is important to look at art whether you are making any or not to keep yourself stimulated creatively. You also want to be in touch with the contemporary art world and know what is going on in your city as well as globally. Follow museums and galleries on social media so that you know when events and shows are happening.

Finally, you need to continue making things or writing about making things and ideas. This is the hardest of the things you need to do when you graduate. Try to make something or write out ideas once a week. Like the cliche saying goes, you've got to use it before you loose it. Keep your mind sharp and don't forget all of the skills you learned in school.

Graduating can be scary if it your first time out of school in ten years, but there are measures to take so that your post-grad life is just as creatively productive as the forced deadlines and creative environment that art school provides.

Artist Spotlight: Suzanne Revy

Suzanne Révy grew up in Los Angeles, California. After high school she moved to Brooklyn, NY where she earned a BFA in photography from the Pratt Institute. While there,  she was immersed in making and printing black and white photographs. After art school, she worked as a photography editor in magazine publishing atU.S.News & World Report and later at Yankee Magazine. With the arrival of two sons, she left publishing, and rekindled her interest in the darkroom. She photographed her boys, their cousins and friends, and built three portfolios of pictures over a fifteen year period.  The first,  a black and white series,  explored the culture and nature of childhood play. The second, made with a lo-fi plastic camera and color film,  represents her own emotional response as mother and witness to their growth and development. The third, a series of color pictures made in her home as her teen sons seemed to retreat into their rooms while she studied for her recently earned MFA at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

  • You have been photographing your two children for the past (how many?) years. What are their reactions to your work? Do they like the photographs you have taken of them throughout the years?

SR: I’ve been photographing them seriously since about 2003 when I built the darkroom, so it’s been about thirteen years. When they were quite small, the camera was simply present during a lot of their outdoor play time. I’d observe them, how they handled, say… leaves or rocks or twigs, how they’d move while at the playground. I’d watch how light illuminated their gestures, and make pictures without interrupting their play. As they grew older, I’d need more of their cooperation, and as teenagers, I generally need at least grudging consent to make a picture. To some degree, I think they are quite happy that I’ve made this work, but the act of making pictures for them at this point, I think may feel like a tedious chore they do for me. In the long run, however, I think they will appreciate this work, especially when they have children.

  • You work in film weather it is color or black and white. Is there a specific reason why you haven’t made the switch to digital?

SR: When I began these projects, which weren’t really conceived as projects, I was using a film 35mm SLR with all the bells and whistles. It was a Nikon F100, great workhorse of a camera. In late 2004, I bought a Mamiya 7, and though the camera at first was harder to use, I found the pictures became more interesting, and I concluded that the Nikon was just too helpful. The focus points somehow forced me into a kind of repetitive use of the rule of thirds, and though the pictures I made weren’t bad,  they weren’t unexpected or surprising either. The ones I made with the Mamiya 7 were more interesting images, and far more fun to print in the darkroom than my 35mm negatives. As digital became better, I was committed to sticking with my medium format cameras, so I could keep seeing and recording my world with cameras that inherently slowed me down. I knew I didn’t want all those helpful bells and whistles. All that said, I did buy a mirrorless digital camera recently, but have rarely used it yet, though I love my phone camera and have been actively posting to Instagram with those pictures.

  •  When you are photographing how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

SR: More often than not it is intuitive and springs from my observations. Occasionally, I’ll see some bit of light, and I’ll ask one of my kids to just stand in that light or I’ll see them do something, and I’ll ask them to let me make some pictures of whatever they are doing, but I might need to have them move to a better spot of light. I don’t construct or plan pictures ahead of time.

SR: It had been a long time goal of mine to get an MFA, but the various stages of my life prevented it until my kids got a little older. There’s something to be said for going back to school in your early 50’s, I feel so grateful that I was able to pursue it while maintaining a semblance of family life with two teen boys. I think my work became better while studying.  Taking an extended period of time to think about the intuitive process I employ and how my work fits into the conversation of contemporary photography was invaluable.

  • You have recently attended quite a few portfolio reviews! Which reviews have you attended and what was the feedback you left with?

SR: I went to Foto Fest in Houston back in March and just recently attended Review Santa Fe. I got some excellent feedback on the work, and some good ideas for places to show it, and interesting ideas for how to start thinking about organizing it into a book. The best part of going to reviews, however, is connecting with other photographers. I’ve made great friends at these review events. They are expensive, and exhausting, however, so I won’t be attending anymore until I feel like I have another solid body of work ready to present.

  • What artists influence you and how do they influence your thinking, creating and career path?

SR: As an avid student in the history of photography, my influences vary widely. While at Pratt in the early 80’s, I was influenced by classic street photographers. Garry Winogrand was a particular favorite of mine. Then in the early 90’s, I became aware of the photo-secessonist Gertrude Käsebier’s work along with Emmet Gowin and Sally Mann who all made pictures close to home. Frustrated that their images often looked so set up, I felt that my medium format allowed me to photograph the children in the way I had made street photographs, but still provided a large negative to make beautiful prints. More recently, I’ve been looking at a lot of color photographers, William Eggelston, Larry Sultan, and a few more contemporary photographers such as Melissa Ann Pinney, Jessica Todd Harper and JoAnn Verburg.

  • What are some tips/advice you would give to someone just starting out in photography?

SR: It’s most important to do the work. Make and study your pictures everyday until you understand your own eye and your own voice within the medium.

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Heather Hobler

Heather Hobler came into the office a year ago when she started photographing her backyard seascapes. Keeping her tripod in the same location, she shoots color negative film during different times of the day. Each print holds luscious colors ranging from cool blues to warm sunsets. The meditative quality of her images invites the viewer to linger and explore every seashell and wave.

  • What is your earliest memory of art?

HH: A large dark abstract Grace Hartigan Wedding Dress painting. This painting hung innocently on
my great-aunt Francis’s dining room wall in an old whalers home in Mattapoisett. It was among
a Joseph Cornell Shadow Box, a Rembrandt etching, a Picasso scarf and many more hidden
treasures. These were true works of art living an ordinary life among the wallpaper and salt air.
Francis lived and worked in NYC in the world of art and museums. She took the train up for
holidays and weekends. Certainly quite exotic to my small town girlhood.

And along with these examples of high art I grew up in a house that my father and mother built
from the foundation up, sailed on boats that my father and brother built, wore handmade wool
garments from both grandmothers and mother, ate from the gardens of my grandfather, have a
handmade doll my sister made me.

In each object, aesthetics and use played equally important roles. What makes art “art” has
always intrigued me.

  • What is your background? Did you go to school for photography?

HH: I went to both SMFA Boston and Tufts University, finishing with a BFA from Tufts in my 20’s and
then back to get my certificate from SMFA in my 30’s. In my 20’s I studied film, video and
drawing and in my 30’s mostly painting and drawing. I have no formal training in photography.

HH: This all started innocently as snapshots and quickly built into a reflective rhythmic journalistic
ritual. Taken from the same place daily and most often multiple times per day I stand facing
south over Buzzards Bay to document the pageant that is my front yard. As this work grows so
does my interest and dedication to what I feel is my most successful body of work.


“The adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live” -Henry Benson, The
Outermost House


I had cancer 8 years ago, and it changed my life (of course and so what), and so too it changed
my belief in the validity of my art making. It was in the building of this collection it became
obvious this was a continuation and distillation of my art. Concepts of systems, comparisons,
suggestions of what came before, the play of edge-to-frame and the basic question of “what is
art?” have always been my concern.


Varying from colorfield paintings to romantic photorealism to pure abstraction, this work plays
with the formalism of the square and the minimalism of a controlled composition. This work is
both poignant and potent as they also engage in the contemporary issues of climate change,
the incessant barrage information and the dwindling amount of natural space. These, too, are a
nod to my 30 year devotion to yoga and meditation. and so the name where lines meet.

  • Throughout the exhibition you will be having interaction days of conversation & contemplation, yoga, and evening talks. How do you plan to work these events into the
    exhibition? What made you decide to do the interactions?

HH: These photographs together as a unit, a collection, a study, each and every time thrill and bore
me, equally. Kinda like, so what? so, so what? or who cares? so, who cares? So selfishly, I want
to discuss that play/work that we do to make sense of what makes us who we are. This is a
project because of just that: I do not have fully formed ideas around these photographs and
look to explore thru interactions. With where lines meet I will be in the space during all
opening hours inviting people in from all supports and interests of my life for contemplation,
conversation and community. Events range from Wednesday evening talks, Thursday and
Sunday yoga and Saturday suppers. I look to make this more than a purely aesthetic
experience.

  • What artists influence you and how do they influence your thinking, creating and career path?

HH: Colorfield painters, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Expressionists Rothko,
Rauschenberg, to more contemporary and conceptual artists Gary Hume, Richard Prince, Hiroshi
Sugimoto
, Doug Aitken, Lisa Yuskavage. I believe all of the mentioned see the trueness of life
and portray it with such high esteem. Their integrity and complexity will forever be of
fascination to me along with their regard for beauty. Surely, by looking at how they are looking
influences and fine tunes my eye. As far as creating, I have forever been creating maybe just
not under the guise as an artist.

  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

HH: Listen.

  • When you are not taking beautiful photographs what are you spending your time doing?

HH: I prefer to be outside as much as possible for both work and leisure. I have been practicing
yoga for over 30 years and now teach. And I spend much time contemplating the horizon.