An attempt to Define a Diverse Creative Practice
Interesting point. I think every photographer has a bit of hesitation when working in other photography based imagery. I say photographer because many artists coming from other media have no doubt at all with that. But also those artists have very often a noticeable lack of knowledge about photography evolution.
By other side the discussion about one or other form of “purism” has always been on the photography table. Since pictorialism discussion to the true versus non true argumentation or the non crop by principle of Bresson and any other way of bordering the activity field. I don’t crop by instance my street photography pictures.
Perhaps Photography as an art is like a porcelain doll. So beautiful and fragile. And maybe it’s better to leave it the way it is not to break the original beauty…just a reflection.
Your collages are just fantastic. In my view embarking on a project or series like you do is a great thing.
I really like the butterfly-bread-boy collage! Thank you.
It sounds like equating the much-admired “singular pursuit” with “hav[ing] a niche and creat[ing] your own brand” is causing endless distress?
When you identify your work as flowing from the current season (which, I’m hearing, is not always calendar-based?) and employ words like - adapting, changing, thriving, shifting, evolving, readiness - aren’t you naming your own authentic and singular pursuit?
We do live beyond the moment, into the future. We do reach behind the moment, into the past. How much richer to rise up and meet the challenges and the glories of each present moment? Scriptures and poets alike attest to rightness of this path.
Stella, I love the idea of phases or seasons, and evolution. It's funny - I read a lot on Substack about behind-the-scenes Substack stuff - and something which raises itself again and again is a(n unnecessary, in my opinion) feeling that one needs to have a 'brand', and then stick to (what I will call) the 'restraints' that show to identify yourself as that brand.
I don't want to be fettered, tied down, or to be stuck by what I feel I should* be saying or showing or doing in order to appear consistent. The same thread runs through every single thing I write or paint: I call it Rebecca. Like you, I am my own ever-evolving body of work.
*Shoulds are banned from my life!
Your words and pictures are wonderful. Thank you for yet another gorgeous Sunday with Stella!
You mentioned Picasso and I also think of Bob Dylan and how so many people hated his switch to the electric guitar. I like this idea of seasons of creativity or periods. You have to do what's right for you in the moment and I believe it all kind of comes together somehow into a body of work. Maybe we can't actually know what the whole body of work is about until long after we are gone and someone writes about it from the bigger picture.
PS - loving these collages!
My artistic practice is completely process-driven and entirely directed by my curiosity. It developed as a response to my experiences as an academic scientist where niche is all, everything has to be minutely planned for years in advance and merit is based entirely on results validated by peer reviewed publications. Trying to change niches was a fraught uphill battle with a very low probability of success. I'm in a much more satisfying and fulfilling situation now as an artist.
It's so difficult to see the "through line" in our own work, isn't it? I'm just looking at what you've shared here, Stella. And as an appreciator of your art, I see a love of strong geometry juxtaposed with the softness of human skin ...a feeling of playfulness in the midst of stern reality... maybe a feeling of being alone in a crowd sometimes... That's so cool. It's a distinctive niche that I think looks very "Stella-esque" to my eye. I've been fascinated by the idea of themes and through lines ever since I read Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit.
I love the variety of your work! I feel niches are just marketing tools. But they are a poor way to describe a creative body of work. I get that it's easy when people can put you in a box, but I worry about getting trapped there. I think about this with my work and worry about becoming the "haiku guy" or "haiku comics guy" because I do a lot of other things and want to do so much more. But, then I relax and realize I'd rather be known as the haiku comics guy than have nobody know my work at all.
I've felt this discordance but hadn't been able to name it. I feel the external pressure to "have a niche and create your own brand." I've not done that, and excused it by saying I'm not trying to make a living as an artist it's just a hobby, but the pressure remains. Acknowleding that pressure allows me to say no, I'm not going to give into that. My art wanders: subject, media, quality. And that's ok. It changes with the seasons of life, and those seasons overlap and drift. That's ok, too.
I’m a bit late on this one but I find that this post is like a permission to create whatever we want or need, no matter what, let’s called them “special or marketer” explain. I think that the problem with the niche is that in order to be seen, to be identified, one must limit itself in a way that’s maybe unhealthy artistically, I mean even if your a commercial artist (working for a client, no judgement at all) isn’t frustrated at some point to be labelled in a certain way ? The comparison with Picasso is perfect : different phase, different things, same artist, a life