Thursday, March 4, 2010

Conversations Special: Art for Haiti Auction

Artist: Brea Souders
Title: Hung
Date: 2008
Size: 20x20 inches
Medium: C Print
Edition size: 10
Signature: Signed in ink, on reverse

As part of our Art for Haiti Auction event, we'd like to revisit conversations with participating artists. Today we're focusing on Brea Souders and Emily Shur, both of which are in Humble Arts Foundation's 31 Women in Art Photography.

© Brea Souders

Nymphoto: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Brea Souders: I was born and raised in Frederick, Maryland and studied photography at the University of Maryland Baltimore County before moving to New York City in 2005. I grew up as an only child in a house surrounded by woods, and I always had plenty of time to myself to daydream and breathe in my surroundings. My mom is a painter and my dad a physicist, and they have both influenced me in many ways. I was interested in psychology for most of my life growing up and started out in college as a psychology major, but quickly learned that I was not so interested in rigid text book theories, but instead in the vast potential and diversity of the human mind. I began to look to people who were pushing those boundaries rather than defining them. It was at this time that my interest in art became my primary interest. I wanted a better way to understand and engage life, and photography provided a perfect outlet.

© Brea Souders

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

BS: All kinds of things – the changes of seasons, shifts in light, bicycling at a fast clip, overhearing snippets of conversations when I’m out having coffee somewhere. All the usual things like that. The fabric and flower districts in New York are new places of inspiration – I like to cruise the aisles and imagine ways to use the various gems I discover. I always like to have a lot of books on hand, although unfortunately I rarely finish them. I’ve been reading a lot of dream journals for a current project and have found that to be really invigorating. Jack Kerouac’s Book of Dreams is an especially exciting read! Of course, learning about anything new is always inspiring, and I’m influenced by people who are determined to live in an expanded world and people with unusual beliefs. I’m also inspired by the discoveries of strange new organisms and any discoveries in space. And maybe most of all, I find a great meal with friends to be very inspiring. Good things usually come out of conversations had over a delicious feast!

Artist: Emily Shur
Title: "Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles, California"
Date: 2004
Medium and Size: 20x24" Digital C-print, edition 5/15, signed

Mila Kunis © Emily Shur

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself.

Emily Shur: Well, since you asked! I was born in New York City in 1976. We moved around the tri-state area a bit and then eventually landed in Houston, TX when I was seven years old. I grew up in Houston and lived there until I went to college at NYU when I was seventeen. I was back in New York for almost twelve years. Now I live in Los Angeles with my husband and our dog. I am an only child. I enjoy eating sushi and drinking red wine (not at the same time of course), and I hope to excel at the expert level of Guitar Hero at some point in my life.

Images from Japan © Emily Shur

NP: You are an accomplished photographer. Can you tell us a person you would like to photograph, who you have not had the chance to photograph yet? And which sitting has been your favorite so far and why?

ES: Some people I would like to photograph but have not yet had the chance include (but are not limited to) Stevie Wonder, Anthony Bourdain, Jack Black, Anne Hathaway, Barack Obama, David Lee Roth, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Tina Fey, Jenny Lewis (I have shot Rilo Kiley but it wasn’t one of my best), and Morrissey. I have different reasons for wanting to photograph all of those people, and those same reasons are what would make a past shoot stand out as a favorite. Some shoots I love because I got to photograph a person I have admired for a long time and has done something that truly impacted me...say David Byrne and/or Al Gore. Some shoots I love because it’s someone I think is super talented and the shoot is a true collaboration with that person...say Jason Schwartzman, Amy Poehler, and Alan Arkin. Then there are some people that are just plain great to photograph for multiple reasons. They get it. They get the process of photography, what makes for a good portrait, they look great, they’re interesting....say Jeremy Piven, Zooey Deschanel, and more recently Amanda Seyfried.

Images from Japan © Emily Shur

NP: On your blog you speak about your personal work and you have a section for it on your website. What drives your personal work? It is interesting that you photograph people for a living while they are absent for the most part in your personal work.

ES: I could bullshit this answer, but to be honest I’m not 100% sure what drives my personal work. I can say that I love exploring and wandering and documenting and feeling calm. This is exactly what’s going on with me when I’m making my personal work. I have never been a very project oriented photographer, but I do have certain long term bodies of work that I am currently in the midst of. Right now I am in love with photographing in Japan, have been for a while. I also recently began a project in New Jersey. As you said, there are barely any people in any of my personal photographs. I think one reason for this is that I make a living dealing with people and personalities. Portraits are so mental. It’s a lot of work to connect with a stranger, appease multiple people at a time, and make it look good. When I shoot for myself, I just want to deal with just one personality – my own. Mostly, I want to explore things and places that are interesting to me and interpret them and my place within them using my voice and perspective.

Remember, you only have 5 days left of the auction. Please help us support Haiti.
Click here to see all the artwork offered in the auction and be sure to check if the reserve minimum have been set.

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