Jennifer Gillia Cutshall
INSIDE the ABSTRACT, post #10 Focusing in on the minute
"Some of my favorite photographers don’t even use a camera..." Eric Seplowitz
What attracted you to the 7th Annual Abstract call? My Micro-Landscape images to me embody the idea of an abstract piece of art even though the images are of real rocks and minerals. The images are very close up and give much more of an abstract feel than your more typical documentary style imagery. Does the idea of transformation influence your work and process? Yes and no. I don’t feel there is a true transformation within my work and process, but the transformation is more about the observer. I am hoping to transform the way we think and view things. Not everything can be seen from one angle or dimension and there is almost always more to an object, a person, an entity, a topic, an idea, or a belief than what you can perceive from a distance. What draws you to the medium you chose? I have always loved photography, in the beginning when I did a lot of nature photography, it was about observation and taking what was in front of me and distilling it into the exact image. A lot of thought went into what to include, what to exclude and what angles, time of day and natural light were all reactionary. As I moved into the studio, I had to learn the entirely new skill of starting from scratch and creating everything that was needed for the photograph. Every decision made was a specific choice, what to place in the scene, background, lighting and angles all needed to be created from an idea.
Tell us a little about your process This image is representative of my micro-landscape series, where I take close up photographs of rocks in minerals using a dedicated camera and macro lens with whatever lighting I believe will work from studio lights, light boxes, flashlights and some natural or ambient light as well. I do also use focus stacking as a technique where I will take multiple photos a different focal points and then compress them into a single image in order to increase the depth of field. What are the strengths of the medium? What are the challenges? The strengths of the photograph is that the art form is primarily in the vision of the artist and how they decide to capture light. It is a really specific artform in that it is just about light, but on the other hand it can be used in so many different styles from abstract fine art to family photos to documentary and scientific captures. It also is so attainable today with most people having some form of camera even in their phones. One of the biggest challenges to the medium is peoples false belief that equipment is the key and you must have really expensive great equipment to take good photographs which is just not true. Some of my favorite photographers don’t even use a camera to make their photographs. Do you work in other modes of expression? Not professionally. I play around with other forms of expression but most of those are just me playing around like any other hobbyist would … for now. Who inspires you? Honestly, the list would be too long to go over here. I am inspired by so many other artists, both nationally or internationally acclaimed and local “unknown” artists. But I also get inspired by stories of people who do something that is selfless and in support of others. Especially in these very difficult times, I am inspired by those that are out there helping others even to the potential harm of themselves. They are heroes and all of them deserve our gratitude. What do you do to get inspired?
Listening to music helps me get into a good mindset to create artwork. It is rare for music to not be playing in my studio and the project dictates the playlist. If you could have coffee or tea with any artist who would you pick? What would you have coffee or tea? What would you ask that artist? There are many – but I am would really love to have tea with Dorothea Lang. I am so curious as to hear what it was like capturing images of people especially given the difficult circumstances of the great depression and then also the work she did capturing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. What do you hope your work achieves? My goal is two-fold. The first goal is to create a piece of art that the observer can enjoy and appreciate. I really hope that people will find a personal connect with something in the piece whether it is joy, inspiration, hope, love, anything really. I am always excited when someone tells me how they connect with a piece and it is in a way I could never have imagined. The second hope is that the observers realize that everything has a deeper level and to take a little time to look a little closer.
How many works do you have to produce before you find a successful image? It typically takes a lot of shots to get a successful image. Sometimes time is spent making slight adjustments to the focus or the lighting to really get the vision to come through, but other times it is going through sample after rock sample to try and find the right composition and color combination. It is not easy to predict what will look good on the micro level when viewing it as a whole. If you could produce any type of work, would you choose something different? I always love collages and mixed media work, but I haven’t really found a way to incorporate that into my artwork at this time. What recently made you smile? Hearing my two kids laughing while playing together despite the situation we are all facing.
What recently made you cry? The loss of my godfather. I was lucky enough to have visited him with my wife and kids a couple of weeks prior to his passing. The guilt of not having kept in touch nearly as well as I should have stays with me, but being able to see him smile and spend a little time with my kids is something I hold onto. What was the most powerful work of art you recall viewing? Where was it? How did it make you feel?
I was really moved by Nick Brandt’s Inherit the Dust series especially images like: ‘Wasteland with Elephants; Residents, 2015’. The images are so striking and the message is so powerful on both the environmental side for the destruction of the planet from the point of view of destroying the wildlife habitat, and also from the point of view of how that destruction is also effecting people. If you could tell your viewers one thing, what would you tell them? Love and enjoy any opportunity you can and hopefully my artwork will bring some relaxation or happiness to you when you view it! Email purchase inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or text or call 347-752-8915