If you follow my blog and work then you know I’ve been working on a Hometown series over the last year, something I’ve been wanting to do for years but couldn’t quite find a meaningful way to approach the work. But last fall things fell into place a bit; I was reading this book How We Do Both: Art and Motherhood. It’s a short book which interviewed various artists asking them the same three questions:
“How do you logistically balance art making and motherhood?”
“Does your art making require a “room of one’s own”?”
“Did having children enhance your creativity?”
While all three questions are so relevant if you’re a mother and and an artist, that last one really made me think. At first I didn’t really think my kids affected my creativity. I was interested in photography long before having kids and was beginning to find my photographic voice. Then, when I had my daughter, the artistic aspect of my photography sort-of stopped. I just couldn’t seem to find the right balance between finding time to create images and be a mom, something just felt off. So vague, I know, but I don’t know how else to explain what I was feeling.
However, I somehow started doing a lot of portrait photography, mostly kids and families, around the time my daughter was born and then for the next 4 years. Which, I guess, had I not had children, would have been a very unlikely avenue for me to pursue. When I first started photography I had zero desire to do any portrait photography, and now finding myself back on track with pursuing my artistic vision, I still have little desire to do portrait work. But that detour taught me A LOT: about myself, balance and particularly about the business of photography.
But to answer the question about enhancing my creativity….still, I couldn’t really see how? As you probably know, most of my photography is architectural and urban landscapes, I couldn’t really see a tie in with my children enhancing this. Then, I got to thinking about childhood and the vast difference between mine and my children’s. I grew up in Berlin, a small rural town in Wisconsin, while my kids have known nothing but big cities, mostly Chicago and for a short time Milwaukee.
I had always wanted to make images in my hometown but wasn’t quite sure why or in what way I wanted to portray where I grew up and what it meant to me. But since having kids, there was something about revisiting, not only the local highlights of Berlin, but also documenting the homes I grew up in and the places I used to play. Finding a way to remember these places and maybe share a piece of my childhood with my children.
So, I guess, when I really think about it, yes they do influence me. Even if it’s not obvious and it’s outside of this particular Hometown series. How can they not affect or enhance my creativity? My life and my viewpoint of the world are forever altered because of them; whether it’s obvious or on a more subconscious level. Maybe I can’t exactly pinpoint the influence outside of this series, but I’m sure it’s there.
The first images I made in this series documented areas within the more “urban” part of Berlin. I wanted to show the places that were a huge part of my life there, from the parks and schools to favorite spots like Shepard’s. And that’s what I shared in my first blog post. (There are still a number of locations I hope to get to in the coming months)
However, a large portion of my childhood was spent in the “country”, I didn’t live in the city during my younger years. I grew up and played all over the more rural area of Berlin, riding my bike, literally, from sunup to sundown, building forts around the creek in the summer and with huge boulders of snow in the winter.
This summer I spent some time revisiting the homes I grew up in, six in total, and photographed what these homes look like now. The ones that remain are a sad resemblance of what they were when I was a small child, and the rest have been torn down. I also visited some of my favorite spots to play when I was a child; with my daughter, Avery, as my little model for the day. While there are still a number of locations I’d like to photograph for this portion of the series, I have a good start on places that were key.
I have been very hesitant to show the images from this part of the series, something about them feels too personal. I’m a somewhat shy person and the thought of sharing these images makes me feel very uneasy, like I’m revealing a little too much of myself. So, for now, I’m going to share this one image. An image from an area my sister and I used to play all summer, we’d ride our bikes down these paths, build forts and wander through the trees.
I’d also like to share that I recently received 2nd place for this image in the exhibition titled Rural Impressions by the New York Center for Photographic Art which was juried by the highly regarded Aline Smithson.
There will be a show opening with this image and the other winning images from various exhibitions by international artists at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art. Unfortunately I am unable to attend but if you live in the New York City area and are able to attend I’d love to hear all about the show!
International Exhibition of Fine Art Photography
Thursday, September 26, 2013
138 Sullivan Street, New York, NY
Congrats, Angie! That's amazing. I just LOVE the Hometown Series.
Thanks Christie! I have so many more images that are similar to the one in this post and I have more I'd like to take yet...just need to find the time to get back up to Berlin with the right weather conditions.