Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Art Space Talk: Rebecca Rome

Rebecca Rome has attended the Main Photographic Workshops and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She will be represented in an upcoming group exhibit at the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco in April this year.

Brian Sherwin: Rebecca, I understand that you studied at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Can you tell us about your educational experiences? Did you have any influential instructors?

Rebecca Rome: I started studying photography in high school and enjoyed it very much, but had my first truly inspirational and challenging artistic experiences during my Intro to Photography class, taught by Michael Kolster at the Academy of Art University in 2000. And although that was an essential and amazing start, the majority of my photographic education and growth occurred at The Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport, Maine where I did a one-year resident program in 2001-2002.
This was the most intense and demanding time of my life as an artist to date, and the time when I first started working with a pinhole camera. I had some incredibly inspiring and challenging instructors there: in particular Brenton Hamilton and Ann Jastrab. The passion and inspired creativity that manifested during this year under the advocacy of these mentors was unparalleled and transcendental.

BS: Rebecca, can you tell us more about your thoughts behind the camera? For example, when you are behind the camera do you think of yourself as a viewer or do you- emotionally or spiritually --consider yourself a part of what you observe? Are these photos a reflection of your identity? Do you have an emotional connection to your work?

RR: First off, it is important to realize that I am in fact the figure appearing in each image. I consider myself much more a subject than an observer in these photographs, and yes, they are very much a reflection of my identity.

A long exposure is necessary when working with a pinhole camera, and this became a useful tool for me, allowing the time and space I need to express deeper and less accessible parts of myself. When I am making these images, I run into the frame and do whatever comes spontaneously in response to the landscape, and completely out of my sub-conscious.
So, my thoughts don’t actually take place behind the camera, but rather in front of it, and cannot even be described as thoughts, but more as actions that serve to manifest internal emotion. When I look at these images, they tell me things I did not yet know about myself, things I had not articulated or given awareness to.

BS: The figures in your photographs often appear to be displaced or confused... there is a psychological quality to these works and what they express. Are you interested in psychology?

RR: Very much so, but my interest in psychology is not so much scientific as it is felt. Psychology endorses the hypothesis that certain behaviors and actions are the result of deep-seated emotions and past experiences. This strongly relates to what happens when I make this work—the inspiration arises from a place that I am not entirely aware of.
As for the figures appearing displaced or confused: my work explores my role as a woman and as a human being in world that is often violent and binding. I believe it speaks of fear, submission and overwhelming exhaustion, as well as a human being’s profound ability to simultaneously sustain both overwhelming sorrow and joy.

BS: Rebecca, I enjoyed viewing your diptych series. The diptych series of photographs strongly convey the themes that you have been working with. Can you give us some insight into this specific body of work?

RR: The diptychs were the first body of work that I made with a pinhole camera. Looking back on them in relation to my more recent work, they seem very dark and wrought with intense emotion. They embody sexuality and death; both of which are, for me, strongly linked to the relent of self-possession. During the making of these images, I needed to express my battle with physical and emotional exhaustion, and the desire to completely submit to forces I could not command.

BS: Your work has been described as visual poetry. What is your response to that opinion?

RR: I am very flattered by this description. I have written a number of poems in the past, and have always appreciated poetry immensely. In fact, I find my work often parallels the words of certain poets more so than the work of other visual artists.
My general concept of poetry is that it is fluid and delicate, and open to instinctive interpretation. Poetry often evokes not a particular thought, but more an indefinable and perhaps overwhelming feeling. This is an essential element of what I hope to accomplish with my photographic work.

BS: Can you tell us about some of your other influences? Are you influenced by any specific artists or art movements?

RR: I believe all of my experiences and the entire contents of my sub-conscious are what truly inform my work, but looking back at it from some distance and after some time, I see very distinct relationships to feminist and surrealist photography. In particular, I relate deeply to the work of Francesca Woodman and Ana Mendieta, both of whom were artists strongly informed by internal emotion and a profound and often agonizing sense of an unstable self in an ever-shifting environment.

BS: What are you working on at this time?

RR: The majority of what takes place during the creative process is contemplation, experimentation, and subtle expression of self, and is separate from an end product or pre-meditated contrivance that aims to entertain others with a finished object. Artwork can take place almost entirely internally, and it is an extraordinary gift to the world when an artist is able to externalize it and express it in a format that is accessible to others. That said, most of the work I am doing now is taking place cerebrally. I ebb and flow as an artist, and often take long breaks from actually producing finished pieces of art, but the internal work transpires and flows through me always.

BS: Do you have any exhibits lined up for 2008?

RR: Yes. I have a show coming up at Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, opening on April 27, which is International Pinhole Photography Day. It is a two-person show that I will share with another pinhole photographer, and will be a fantastic celebration of the pinhole photography tradition. Most remarkably, the exhibition will be composed of work that aims to express the most complex and elusive aspects of the human psyche without the use of a lens or complex mechanics.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

RR: I would like to say that I am so immensely grateful to those of you who have seen, understood and been touched by my work. There is no greater reward as an artist than to know that you have moved another person in a way that makes their experience, while still uniquely powerful, a little more understandable and a little less isolating.
You can learn more about Rebecca Rome by visiting her profile-- . You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Marta McKeever here


Congratulations on unleashing your amazing talents!!