Monday, December 3, 2012

Amy Friend

Amy Friend received a MFA from the University of Windsor and a BFA from York University. She has exhibited her work in group and solo exhibitions nationally, and was recently a Critical Mass Finalist. Amy currently lives and works in Ontario, Canada where she also teaches at Brock University. 

Find more of Amy's work here:

Ashley Kauschinger: You have created many varied projects. What draws you to exploring many different photographic realms and do you feel there are connecting factors between your projects?

Amy Friend: My projects begin in a variety of ways, they are sometimes sitting in the back of my mind for a long period of time waiting to come to life and by contrast there are these, immediate moments, when I am struck by something that I know I need to explore. The Parallel Series began with that “immediate” reaction; I was visiting family and looked out the window to the field behind the house, there were these tiny, white clovers everywhere; they looked like stars in the waning light. I wanted to capture that land, the land where my family farmed, where I played as a child, where there was so much history and connection to place.

On another note, I love the poetry of language. Music and song lyrics have found their way into my work, in fact the series titled, Soon this Space Will Be Too Small is directly quoted from singer/songwriter Lhasa de Sela. I saw her perform many years ago and she told this incredible story that I will never forget. (Here is a link to Lhasa De Sela explaining this story: If you listen to this story it explains quite a bit about my interest in the unknown, in that intangible something, which finds its way into my work over and over. I see photography as a connection to that “intangible something”. .

In a more concrete manner, I have revisited my own history, and the lives of those I have known. When I was growing up, there were so many remnants from family in our house, these objects were omnipresent throughout my life and at times continue to be a source I draw from.

The Vestiges photographs are images of my Nonna’s nightgowns. She saved these old, worn out fabrics, probably to use as rags, but when I found them, I remember holding them to the light, you could see where her body had worn away the fabric, they were absolutely precious. I experimented with several photographic processes and staging devices to capture and express my experience of this body that was evident but not present.

I am barely scratching the surface, but I think you can see I have a rather “magpie” approach to how I develop my work. Despite this, my work has a binding thread. I prefer to describe these connections through individual words rather than an overarching statement. When I think of my work thus far, I see: memory, history, time, life and death, stars, water, movement and stillness, light and dark, stories, freedom, dirt, and air.

AK: What brought you to the discovery of your series Dare alla Luce: life and artistic influences, technique, etc? 

AF: I became the keeper of our oldest family photo albums. Many of the stories held in the photographs are now lost. I contemplated what this loss meant and began the Dare all Luce series from that standpoint.

What are we to think, when we view these “lost” photographs. I began to collect photos from vintage markets and online. I wanted to make these photographs precious, something more than what they were, in order to entice the viewer to meditate on the photos more thoroughly. As I did this I realized the pinholes that were made allowed light to pass through the photos surface. This light instilled a state of both the real and imagined. (This accidental light commented more on the actual nature of the medium of photography than what I initially did with the embroidery.) Some photos in the series are personal- they were taken from family albums but mostly were anonymous. Some contained titles revealing bits of a story, while others remained a mystery. Through my explorations I began to see these lost images as being re-born, as having a new existence as photographs despite the lost information.

AK: What emotional and psychological intention do you have for the work? 

AF: I want to the work to speak about loss and discovery, to reference “us” as individuals and how anonymous we are in this life.  There are titles, like Ruth, 1939. We know nothing about her other than the vague information the photograph offers. What is her story? Where was the photograph taken? Who took the photograph? The plethora of stories that were never photographed, never told exist as well. They are in the ether, these lost photographs speak of all that we are and all that we will become. We are passing lights, we are stories lost and yet, we live and remain in fragments and in the folds of memory. I think the photographs are both joyful and somewhat sorrowful at the same time. They allude to the preciousness of a moment. That is what a photograph presents, just a moment.

AK: What inspires you to use an image when you see it?

AF: I must admit I am rather haphazard with my choices. I choose photographs that I am attracted to and photographs that strike me as curious. There is one image titled, Afterglow, that I was attracted to because of the relationship between the woman and the horse, it was so simple, and yet so beautiful. The Spirit Rappers, is another image that I could not get out of my mind. Who were these three young ladies? I began to imagine them as sisters, due to their age and resemblance. I recall trying to “write” a life for them but they are a mystery. Life is a mystery. I love when an image just grabs you and says look at me, do you know who I am? 

AK: Your work has been getting a lot of press recently. What is your process of self promotion? How do you balance the act of creating work, promoting it and everyday life?

AF: I submit my work to many calls and competitions; this series has attracted some attention, which is wonderful. I try to look at other art that I find interesting and see where my work belongs at the same time. I research where I should or should not submit my work by looking at artist that are represented but also by where I dream to show my work. As most artists know, you have to plug-away and keep putting your work out there. It is not easy, but we all work hard to do what we love. I tend to work in chunks of time, where I spend a few months in the studio working with new ideas and seeing where they lead. I will take a break from the studio and begin researching possible venues for my work. I love to get out there see what is going on beyond the studio and the Internet. It is incredibly important to see actual art in person. I am not so sure that I balance the act of creating very well. It is what I do. I feel anxious when I am not working this way. I wish I could sit back, rest a bit, but it is just not me; I am most at ease when I am working.

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