Friday, May 09, 2008

Art Space Talk: Seth Lower

I was introduced to the art of Seth Lower at the New Insight exhibit at Art Chicago. Seth has had solo exhibitions at the Diego Rivera Gallery and the Stilllights Gallery in San Francisco. In 2007, Seth was an Honorable Mention in the Hey, Hot Shot! exhibition at Jen Bekman Gallery in New York. He has been a teaching assistant under the instruction of Harrell Fletcher, Alice Shaw, Henry Wessel and other influential instructors. Seth earned a BFA in Photography at The University of Michigan and is currently finishing his MFA studies at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Image from Night Swimming -- Seth Lower

Brian Sherwin: Seth, I observed your work at the New Insight exhibit at Art Chicago this year. For those who don't know, New Insight is an exhibition of artwork by promising young contemporary artists. The exhibit was curated by Susanne Ghez, Director of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and coordinated by Sarah Krepp, artist and professor at UIUC. Can you tell us about your experience at New Insight?

Seth Lower: I'm honored to have been part of the show; the other students' work was really great and Susanne and Sarah did a wonderful job in putting it together. The larger context, Art Chicago, was a bit chaotic: three huge floors of commercially driven art venues, buyers, sellers, etc. It was pretty overwhelming. For me, the student section had the best work--which was refreshing and encouraging, but also a bit troubling as an emerging artist.

Image from Night Swimming -- Seth Lower

BS: Seth, you are currently finishing your studies at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Can you tell our readers about your experience at SFAI? Have you had any influential instructors? What is the program like? Do you have any advice for students who are considering SFAI?

SL: SFAI's great because of its ideological diversity, which is a golden opportunity for students to find their own direction. They can slip out of their majors to work interdepartmentally, should they choose to do so. I started in the photography department and wound up working mostly with New Genres faculty. Some great teachers: Trisha Donnelly, Allan deSouza, Alice Shaw, JD Beltran, Hank Wessel, Doug Hall, Tony Labat, Paul Kos, John Roloff, Charles Boone, John Priola, Harrell Fletcher, etc etc. My advice for students heading to SFAI is this: be a train wreck, preferably during your first year, and make mistakes.

Image from Night Swimming -- Seth Lower

BS: Seth, tell us about your work. Perhaps you could discuss your process as a photographer? Give us some insight into the thoughts behind your work...

SL: I think honesty is important. I don't know what that means. I like working from the personal into the broader public and communicating something to an audience. I'm interested in the document and the definition and translation of meaning. Being a photographer is a scary thing--you can easily shift into zombies if you're not careful. It's a good medium for people who like pretending to be invisible, like me. It's also a good way of getting ideas, sketching, engaging in a kind of personal practice that's half-way between selfish and generous.

BS: Can you go into detail about your influences? Are you influenced by any specific artists?

SL: Alice Shaw, Francis Alys, Tacita Dean, Will Rogan, Sophie Calle, Fischli & Weiss, Douglas Huebler, Werner Herzog, Eddie Vedder... all very genuine people interested in simultaneously telling me something and showing me something.

Image from Night Swimming -- Seth Lower

BS: Seth, I read that you will take part in the The Exquisite Corpse Project (2009) at Meat Market Gallery in Washington D.C.. Can you tell us about that exhibit? Also, will you be involved with any other upcoming exhibits?

SL: Yeah, the people putting it on emailed me one day with this collaboration idea--a photographic version of the exquisite corpse concept. They sent me a photo that another artist took and I had to respond to it in some way so that my picture formed the next link in the chain. It's going to be interesting because, in a way, everything makes sense. It's really hard to not make sense with photographs. I took a picture of my friend's cake.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?
SL: Just thanks for listening. And Thanks Brian!
You can learn more about Seth Lower by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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