Monday, September 10, 2012

Sarah Moore

Sarah Moore was born and raised in South Dakota, and received her BFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design in 2009. She is currently interested in photographing the American Landscape which started on a six week road trip that resulted in her most recent body of work, Scape. Her work was recently chosen as a Finalist in Critical Mass.

To find out more about Sarah and her work, visit her website:

Ashley Kauschinger: Scape, documents your travels across America. Can you talk about how the series began and formed? 

Sarah Moore: I began the work that would later become Scape last fall, while on a road trip around the country.  I had been living in Philadelphia for two years, which were wonderful years, but years that I didn't make or think about photographs.  So in order to find the photographer in me again, I decided to move from Philly and embark on a six-week road trip. I didn't have a preconceived project in mind while on the trip. Instead of over-thinking before I even made the photos (as I sometimes tend to do), I just used the time to photograph endlessly, hoping to find joy in photography again. I didn't really think I'd end up with a solid project from the trip, but it came together afterwards. I wanted to make the photographs into a cohesive body of work to share with people because they were evidence of such an important journey for me. America is beautiful, but my views on America and life are also very complicated.

AK: What do you think you discovered about yourself through this work and this journey? 

SM: It's  hard to pinpoint exactly what was discovered. Foremost, I rediscovered that I'm a photographer. I think I also changed in other ways on the journey, both personally and artistically. Landscapes, self-portraiture, and creating / documenting elements of isolation have always been important to my photographic projects.  Loneliness is a thread that runs through all my work, and I used to think that the loneliness in my work had to portray sadness. I think my road trip helped me realize that loneliness doesn't have to equal unhappiness. Searching for something doesn't mean you don't have something already. Sometimes it's important to explore and escape not to find oneself but to just be oneself in the moment.

AK: Close up self-portraits in different locations around the country are an integral part of the series, what emotional significance do you connect to this specific act?

SM: I've been making self-portraits for about five years now. I started photographing myself when I was working on my project rooted in my home state of South Dakota, Expanse. At that time, I wanted to portray the overwhelming space and emptiness of that landscape, and putting a person in the land helped do so. I also wanted to describe my feelings of isolation, and I discovered self-portraiture was one way to do that.  

When I was photographing Scape, at first I lapsed back into self-portraiture both as a comfort and a confrontation. That was an intensely emotional time for me in many ways, and I wanted to photograph myself throughout different moments and landscapes as a record. I also started to use myself as more of a character than I had in the past. I became more aware of the ways I could photograph myself so the images would still be self-portraits, but the "me" in the pictures was always somewhat changing and evolving.

AK: You graduated from RISD a few years ago now. How have you remained motivated to continue to create work outside of the structure of a university?

SM: That was definitely a struggle right after graduation. Immediately after graduating, I found it nearly impossible to motivate myself to make work. I didn't know how to find other photographers or continue making good work without any feedback or structure.

But now, I enjoy making work without that university structure. It's been nice, though scary, to make my photos in a vacuum.  I use the internet to get my work out to an audience and to get feedback. I've also participated in portfolio reviews, which have really helped me gain constructive feedback from both photo professionals and fellow peers. 

AK: What is your process of self-promotion? How do you create a balance between making work and promoting it? 

SM: I've been trying to get better at self-promotion. In real life, I'm pretty shy and unassertive, so it's hard for me to try to make people look at my work or even suggest they do so. Luckily, it's easier to do those things with the internet.  I use my blog to show new work and tell people about shows, projects or print sales. I use Facebook and Instagram in the same ways. I both love and hate all these forms of social networking. I don't like having to rely on these modes to make people look at my work, but for now, it's one of the easiest ways to do that. I've also made some amazing real-life friends and professional connections through my blog or random email exchanges. So maybe it's not so bad after all.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your work. 

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