Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work
I was born and raised mostly in Minnesota. When I was 5, I was hit by a car. I was in a body cast for months. I remember being stuck in a bed that was behind the couch and unable to turn on the television. I think this is when I became really creative. I would have to invent ideas or images in my mind to keep myself from going crazy. My mother gave me a polaroid camera at some point during recovery. I remember a pack of film cost $20. I would purposely waste film just so my parents would have to buy me more. Eventually I would get over this emotional purging and photograph things that mattered.
My mother loved photography and the arts. She was not a professional, but rather a dedicated amateur. From my early childhood, I remember my parents going on trips. My mom would come home with giant ziplock bags full of 35mm film. She would have to wait days to weeks to get all of the film back from the lab so she could find out if anything she captured was successful. The cost associated with her photographic hobby often had my parents arguing over money. This led me to not consider photography as a viable career.
I moved to Los Angeles to pursue cultural freedom and a music career. Life has a funny way of redirecting you. A health emergency and ovarian surgery led to the end of music for me due to the sound frequencies making me feel nauseous and uneasy. I took to acting to earn money. I had some success there until the Writer's Guild Strike in 2008. Then I took up a job as a nightlife photographer and fell in love with photography all over again.
After some success with my photography, I craved a more expressive way to tie in my love of photography with my upbringing of the arts. I began making odd photomontages. I had this thirst for more photo knowledge right around when I had my first son. I discovered the Academy of Art University and pursued my BFA in photography. It was there in those online classes that I discovered my true voice for photography. I turned my deepest, darkest pain in to photomontages of my family.
What set you off as an artist?
I would have to blame the Writer's Guild Strike of 2008 for my art career. Had it not put me out of work for an extended period of time, then I might not have rediscovered my passion for photography. From the nightlife photographs, I was featured during the Month of Photography Los Angeles. This all snowballed my thirst to know more about photography.
Tell us about the themes you pursue in your work
My work is based off of the human condition and family. Early work is more about the social norms of society or specific cultures in Los Angeles; while present work is all based off of family, history related to family and how we are really all the same even though we are from different cultures and backgrounds. It is all personal work. My photographs are an extension of the secret of me. If you decoded them, you would probably know more about myself than I do.
What art do you most identify with ? any specific influences or research areas?
I mostly identify with pain and suffering of the human experience.
I have a lot of influences. I am really drawn to Imogen Cunningham's double exposures, in which the double exposure of John Winkler influenced my series "A Cry for Help". I am also drawn to Tierney Gearon and Sally Mann's documentation of their families. I am also obsessed with the Dada movement and surrealism.
Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? what is your most essential tool?
Wow, this is a hard question. Originally, I thought I couldn't live without my computer, but a current series I am working on only requires cutting and gluing. I could live without my camera as I would resort to making photograms on plants for the rest of my life. I guess I really couldn't live without my creative, outside the box thinking brain. It is a blessing and a curse. I could be flexible on equipment, but if I had to rely on someone else to produce my art, then I would be in trouble. I am my most essential tool.
Tell us how you organize, plan, and prioritize your work
I plan first. I have to make up a decision which project I am working on and sketch some ideas in my notebook. I find locations or people to photograph and generally capture more than what I had originally set out to photography. When I get home, I organize all of my images in to my computer. Some times I print out a bunch of images just so I can stare at them and think about what I am going to make, if anything with them. I prioritize my work by working on it while my kids are at school and after they go to sleep. I work all of the time. It is harder to stop working and start back up again than it is to just continue working. I have an amazing assistant who submits the work I make, so I can continue to keep making work and handling art fairs, exhibitions, and inventory.
How do you navigate the art world?
Most artist go out and actively participate in their local art scene. I try to do this; however there are just not enough hours in the day. I instead focus my energy on showing at art fairs and keeping up with other artists on social media and at social events. I feel like I navigate with a blindfold on as most of my submissions are done through the internet.
Describe the trajectory of your career as an artist so far
I began taking photography seriously in my mid-20s working as a nightlife photographer. I migrated over to fine art photography in my late-20s. I received a BFA from Academy of Art University. I have shown in several art fairs internationally. As of this writing, I have won a few awards and been featured in art fairs and magazines for my work. My team and I have laid a good foundation for the beginning of a long haul career. I have had a few solo exhibitions and hundreds of group shows. Who knows what the future holds.
Professionally, what is your goal?
My goal is to reach as many people as possible with my messages. I want everyone to know they are not alone. I want everyone to understand that everything is far more complicated that just being black or white. I want people to understand that the identity you were raised as might not be your entire story so you should just stop hating other people because they are different. We all have similar ancestry and stories at some level of our lives.
Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?
I have several upcoming shows I am in. At the beginning of October, I close one show currently on view at Shoebox Projects in Los Angeles and open another show at the ACCI gallery in Berkley, California. I will be showing work in with Fabrik Projects at FotoFever during Paris Foto in Paris and the Superfine Art Fair in Los Angeles. There are several other art fairs coming up that I have yet to confirm.