“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
I know you are wondering what I am doing. In my most honest moments, I wonder too.
The photography shoot was an adventure, a challenge, and a chance to see naked people up close. Working with an artist whose medium is photography, we created a series of quite lovely, interesting, and at times, disturbing images. Some of the images are based on very loose ideas or story fragments and some arose organically within the photo shoot. I will write proper, interesting choice of word, stories for the images.
Overall, the models were exquisite. Every one of them perfect in some way, usually unexpected. We attempted to capture or hint at the elusive perfection.
Each day, up would drive a perfectly normal looking and behaving person asking where to park.
“Around back. You don’t want your car towed.”
“Okay,” and with a trusting nod, they would follow me around the back of the building to park behind my car. They would walk into the building. I would make sure doors were locked.
“Wow, thanks it’s not too cold,” models would say. They signed a model’s release and showed us their license, which I photographed and emailed to us. We explained what we were looking to do. Got their input. Then they would say, “Ready?”
I would take a big breath and think, “Here we go. Don’t stare.” And they’d take off their clothes. Trying to look busy elsewhere as this was happening, I forced myself to exhale, practiced a noncommittal smile.
Then we went to work. After the first ten minutes, it was fine. We put in some hours, broke a sweat, strained our eyes, hearts, and brains. There were a couple of dicey moments, more about artistic choices than about nudity.
“Did you see that?”
“Yeah, we can’t have that.”
So I walked over to the model and said, “I’m going to clamp some fabric around your butt. Strange shadow … “
Without blinking an eye she said, “Sure.”
Clamp, clamp, clamp went the fabric. The model smiled. I was the uncomfortable one.
Things were better by the second day. I felt maternally protective – walking them out to their car, asking if they needed water or felt dizzy and needed to come down from the stool.
But the third day was confusing, trying, a major leap of artistic faith. We photographed two models. Together. I kept repeating the mantra,
Thisisart. This is art. THIS … IS … ART.
Periodically, I would check in with my collaborator.
“Can they do that?”
“Will we go to jail?”
“I’m not sure this will fly in Raleigh … “
He’d smile at me and tell me to do something. Pick up a stool. Gather some clothes. I would suggest things – the placement of a hand, drape of a fabric, choice of a prop – and the models were game. It was a wonderful collaboration.
This weekend, we reviewed the images. Plugging the camera into a TV, the images took on life. The images are stupendous. Beautiful, erotic, disturbing. Quite likely, the photographs and stories won’t fly in Raleigh or will have a limited flight.
But mostly, I am proud of us. We were true to our visions.
I kept my promise to see the beauty in each model – not getting bent out of shape over every little imperfection. (Maybe one day I will see my body with the same kindness.)
More ideas are percolating. The exhibit is starting to find a shape, probably not the final shape. We will continue to work within our visions as I gather my courage and sharpen my skills. It helps that I am reading Bayles and Orland’s Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING.
But it is imperative, however you evaluate the exhibit, we will keep making art.