My Interview with the Chicago Artist Coalition

The Chicago Artist Coalition interviewed me for there Chicago Artist To Watch program. I was interviewed by Miguel Jimenez, the assistant to the publications Manager for Chicago
Artists’ News. Here is the interview:

First, a little bit about your

background: Where were you
raised, and where did you do your
undergraduate work?

I was raised in Schaumburg
and went to Columbia College in
Chicago. I graduated in 2005.

Your photographs are taken

in both urban and suburban settings.
Is that a reflection on the
duality of living in the suburbs and
studying in the city?

I was raised in the suburbs, and
even while going to Columbia I still
lived at home in Schaumburg. But
there was always something about
the city that intrigued me when I
first started to go there…there was
just a lot more diversity. During
high school, my friends and I would
take trips out to the city and go all
over Chicago – just hanging out and
exploring. It was an experience of
freedom from the whole suburban
life that was really routine. The city
had lots of layers to it. There were
lots of different things going on and
people from different walks of life.

In many of your photographs
taken in the city, there seems to be
a focus on the way women express
themselves with their bodies and
fashion what do you look to capture
in these photographs?

A lot of it is just off of my own
observations of people. I just try to
reset them and exaggerate them a
little. They are women who have attitudes
and exude a confidence all the
time that I’d never seen before. I am
showing this confidence and making
it grander than what it usually is.

Can you describe the process

behind these photographs?

Everything is always set up. I
have stylists, make-up artists, and
models. I talk to the models about a
character that I build up. I can see a
lady sitting at the bus stop with her
hands in her pockets, very voguish,
but she can be tired waiting for
the bus. I tell a model, “Picture the
girl waiting for the bus, it’s really
cold, and you have to get to work...”
Models and people can relate to this
because they’ve seen these characters.
They know the person that I’m
talking about and they know the

It seems like fashion brings

something unique to these re-staged
real-life scenarios. Fashion and
photography really collide. Where
did this idea come from?

I like fashion photography and
I also like photo journalism. I take
both things and put them together.

You have a project that seems
to follow these ideas, entitled “The
Wal-Mart Project.” Can you tell us
about it?
A really good friend and I go to
Wal-Mart and take pictures every
year. We dress up alike and pretend
we’re a couple, and we take pictures
together. I just thought it would be
fun to bring a model into Wal-Mart
and take a picture. They have these
crazy backdrops with sailboats and
leaves and other stuff, and I thought
it’d be interesting. That’s something
that I’m working on now. It’s fun
to see the portrait photographer get
involved. I direct the model and after
we take the picture, we all look at
the picture. The model can look, the
photographer can look, and we have
to decide whether or not we want the
picture. It’s just a fun project. I’m
going to video tape the next one.

Is that what you’re currently
working on?

Yes, and I’m also working on
a documentary / mockumentary
about black kids who are raised
in predominantly white suburbs.
I’ll be able to do a portrait project
with that.

Finally, what keeps you going as an
artist, specifically when something
like the state arts budget
cut occurs?

I hope that someday I can get to the
point where I can be so successful
that I can meet with someone and
change his/her mind or be able to cut
a check, because art is really important.
If I hadn’t studied art I wouldn’t
be here. It’s all that I’ve wanted to
do. It’s important that other people
get that opportunity to express themselves
and know that careers are
available in art and that you can
make a living doing it. I can’t believe
that they cut the budget. I just really
hope that I can get to the point where
I can make a difference.

For more information about the Chicago Artist Coalition click here

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