It’s hard to believe the end of August is almost here and that my time at Flower City Arts Center is almost over. Reflecting on my time here, I have learned so much and had many great experiences. While I was here I kept a log of what I did everyday, and looking at it now there are a few projects and experiences that really stand out to me.
One of my favorite projects of the entire summer was one of the first things I did, and that was reorganizing and archiving the class files. While that may sound painfully boring to many, I really enjoyed it and it was an important experience for me as a museum studies student as I think it helped me realize what type of work I’d like to do in the future. The other experience that stood out to me was being able to join the Studio Photography for Teens class on their field trip to the George Eastman Museum. I had the opportunity to meet David Levinthal and hear him speak about his own work as well as his process. I was also able to work with some of the artists in residence here and be present on the Flower City Arts Center’s social media. One experience that combined these things was when I was able to be a part of the live Instagram interview with AIR Megan May. Of course, these were not the only experiences that left an impression on me; everything I did here taught me something.
Without Flower City Arts Center and the amazing staff here, I would not have had any of these experiences or opportunities and I am so grateful for the time that I have spent here. From the youth program, to the artist in residency program, to the internship program, and everything else this center has to offer, Flower City Arts Center is a unique part of the Rochester community and I am thankful that I was able to be a part of it for these past three months. I value the time that I have spent here so much, and I hope that my departure isn’t a “goodbye” and is more of a “see ya later”.
I had the opportunity to tag along with the Studio Photography for Teens class on their trip to the George Eastman Museum and document the experience. At the Museum we all met David Levinthal who gave us a tour of the exhibition of his work,David Levinthal: War, Myth, Desire. As he walked us though the exhibition Levinthal explained how he began taking photographs of toys and where the inspiration for many of his photos came from. He talked about his love for history and how it has influenced so much of his work over the years, and how pure experimentation and curiosity has affected his work as well.
Levinthal stated that problem solving is a very important part of this work. In fact, he said that was one of the main reasons he began to take photos of toys to begin with. He explained that early on he didn’t like to shoot in a studio and the toy dioramas allowed him to shoot almost anywhere and use simple lighting techniques as opposed to large studio lights.
At one point in the exhibition we saw an example of a diorama he had used. We got to see first hand the scale of the sets he was working with as he explained where he got his materials from, and how he composed many of his dioramas. He also showed us the notes and small stick figure drawings that he makes when planing out a diorama. He stated that he often has an image in his head and used this method to create it.
After Levinthal had walked us though the exhibition and explained his process and the thought behind much of his work, the students had a few moments to roam and take everything in for themselves. We then returned to Flower City Arts Center, where the students then had the opportunity to show Levinthal some of their own work. He helped them with their dioramas and he gave them some tips on how to get them to perform the way they want, as well as feedback on their photos. Then he stayed and talked with the students about their work and their interest in photography until it was time for the students to clean up for the day.
Over the next couple of days the students continued to work and create their own photos in the style of David Levinthal. Not only did the students take digital photos of their dioramas but they had the opportunity to use a Fujifilm Instax Wide instant film camera. After compiling so many great images the students crated an online exhibition of their own work.
This week we launched our third online exhibition: It is called the American Flag by Citlali Fabián. Citlali was an artist-in-residence here at the Center this summer where she started working on a new photographic project. This online exhibition is a culmination of her three month residency – and I’m already looking forward to having Citlali back here in Rochester next year!
Megan Charland: For this project you used a Fuji Instax camera. Why did you decide to use instant film for these photos when you primarily photograph with black and white film?
Citlali Fabián: Different projects requires different ways to approach them. In the case of this particular project I think shooting in color was necessary to me because showing color from the flag and the houses were important to collect more information and to exalt the flag’s presence. Also instax film help me to creat photographic objects with a unique essence.
MC: Is this project complete? If not, at what point do you think it will be finished?
CF: Not yet. I have a clear idea about how I want to finish it. But unfortunately my time here went so fast. I’m planing to come next year to finish it and publish a book about it.
MC: You started It is called the American Flag while a resident here at Flower City Arts Center this summer. What do you plan on working on once you return to Mexico this fall? Do you see a Mexican Flag project in your future?
CF: I’m planning to finish a long term photographic project called Apuntes sobre mi madre this fall. It is a wet plate collodion project that I will show next year in Houston and Rochester.
I don’t think I will do a project about the Mexican flag because it has a different impact. I don’t see Mexican flags there every three four houses as here. They have a presence on government buildings, during the World Cup or at Independence Day on September 16th.
MC: You recently completed a Certificate in Photographic Preservation and Collection Management from the George Eastman Museum. How does this professional experience impact your personal art practice?
CF: This experience let me see and start to plan better ways to develop my career. But definitely the best and more constructive part to me was been able to see master pieces from different renowned artists. That experience changed and opened up my mind. I believe as visual artist part of our duty is saw art because we grown from it. I feel so lucky to been able to see images that I knew from books and to be able to appreciate their without the glass between us. My favorite so far Julia Margaret Cameron images.
Please join me as I guide visitors on a tour of the exhibition The Run-On of Time, the first museum retrospective of Eugene Richards‘s work, while I share my own experience working in Rochester, New York as a photojournalist, photography artist-in residence and teaching artist at the Flower City Arts Center where I offer the Social Reportage class covering the issues that face our time while raising a visual awareness through thoughtful immersion.
If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll already know I participated in the George Eastman Museum’s Photo Finish 5K last weekend with my co-worker Amanda Chestnut. This annual fundraising event has raised over $100,000 so far this year to support various organizations and causes in our community. Here at Genesee Center we are raising funds to help support our Artist-in-Residency program. So far we have raised $610 out of our $1,500 goal. Donations are accepted through November 1st so please consider donating and helping us support these amazing artists!
Also, I already have our 2nd Photography AIR lined up! I’m thrilled to have Stephanie Mercedes join us this January for a 3-month residency. 2017 is going to be a busy exciting year here in the Photography program.
Interested in supporting our Artists-in-Residence? Donate >>