As many of you know, last year I, Carrie-Anne, decided to go back to school for my Masters in Fine Arts degree. This has always been a personal goal of mine and with a little positive energy, prayer, and much help from the Veterans Administration–it came knocking at my door. In the Spring of 2014, I began attending Long Island University for my MFA in studio art with a concentration in photography. It has been an absolutely amazing ride!
My goal for going back to school, was not only to work with and be around other photographers, but to also work with and be around other artists with similar passions; it was to learn things that I had never explored before – ceramics, painting, print making. To see photography in a different way, to learn about myself and the deliberate choices that I sometimes unconsciously make in my art work.
What I am working on now-
In the Spring of 2015, I took my last required Art History course. I had already taken History of Photography 1 and 2, and in my undergrad I had taken art history in the Rococo, Renaissance and Medieval periods. So when I saw Mexican Muralism, taught by Niria E. Leyva-Gutiérrez Ph.D as an option for my graduate studies, I immediately took it. It is now, and will probably always be, the hardest Art history course I have taken to date. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I not only had to learn the art that was coming out of Mexico, I had to learn the history of Mexico. I mean of course I did! How can you study Mexican Muralism and not know the history of Mexico? I mean art imitates life does it not?
I will say, we were so incredibly blessed with an amazing Professor who was so passionate about the subject. In class, we studied “Los Tres Grandes,” The three BIG ones – Diego, Siqueros, and Orozco. Of course, with Diego, we studied the amazing Frida Coelho. I struggled a bit. I felt like I was studying and reading all of the time. By the second week of class, more than 5 people had dropped out.
I am really glad I stuck it out. It inspired me and led me to one of my current, in progress, bodies of work.
First, let me explain the circumstances of the night that it came about:
Many of you who know me, know that I tend to be a bit OCD. When I enter a room, I like to stand in a certain place, be in a certain area, and in a class, I like to sit on a certain side and in a certain place as well. I generally like an area where I can see the whole room and where it is not too terribly congested. On one particular day, I had come to class about 10 minutes late. When I entered the room, not only was my seat taken, but every seat in that general area of the classroom had been taken! Annoyed and a bit disheveled, I reluctantly found a chair on the other side of the classroom, behind two girls who always chatted throughout the entire class, both of which mostly surfed the internet looking for clothes and such.
Annoyed, I sat down and kept my hat on, pulled down to just above my eyes. This is how I block people out. Niria was handing back out midterm exams, 3 essay questions. I got an A-. It was then that even she noticed me in my discomfort on the “wrong side” of the room. We chuckled and she began her lesson.
On this day we would be discussing David Alfaro Siqueiros. As she began her lecture and going through his work, I found myself sketching. At first, just a few notes, but then I began to feverishly sketch out proposed studio lighting, model ideas, and names and dates of certain Siqueiros pieces. I became so incredibly inspired by her talk, by this class, and by the work of Siqueiros. I thought to myself: these would really look great in studio. As many of you know, once upon a time I was a pretty accomplished designer. I think that it was because of that era of my life that I now choose to use as minimal Photoshop as possible in my photography.
I believe that there is a certain level of knowledge and skill attained when one can come to a place where they strive to first get it “right” in camera. So when I am in post-process of my images (in the “editing phase”) I will, most of the time, only do in Lightroom, what I would be able to do in a traditional darkroom. Usually, there is no photoshop involved. And these next 4 or 5 pieces would involve tricky lighting and body makeup.
Every artist should have a network of really good friends, with different talents, who love to work on something creative… just for the sake of doing it. Art for Arts sake. I am blessed with a nice network of other creatives, makeup artists, other photographers, models, etc. My makeup artist was the first call. Now I do work with quite a few makeup artists, one or two for my portrait sessions… but I knew this project would require a certain level of special effects make up. I immediately called my very good friend, Grace Vasquez. And like Thomas Hart Benton said when commissioned to create his amazing mural “America Today,” I told Grace that while I could not pay her, I would be able to “finance the eggs.” Anything she needed, airbrush, make up, anything at all, would be provided…. Oh and of course, I would feed her! With that, our deal was made and we set out to create our first piece together, a recreation of Proletarian Victim, 1933, by David Alfaro S David Alfaro Siqueiros, iqueiros. We found a model willing to hold the grueling pose in the nude and we set out to the studio.
Below is the first draft, my notes for fixing some issues, and the final UNEDITED piece. 🙂