Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
My work constantly revolves around ways of seeing versus ways of looking. Currently, investigating ideas of the self and the spaces between the ways to be known, both to ourselves and to others.
Caitlin is an artist from East Tennessee, currently residing in North Carolina where she is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She has exhibited nationally. Her work has appeared in The Woven Tale Press, ARTPOST Mag, and F-Stop Magazine, just to name a select few. She was also a recent artist-in-residence at Azule in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Her primary medium of choice is photography.
What does your work revolve around? Do you feel like your bodies of work revolve around each other or act as separate narratives?
I feel like all my bodies are work in intrinsically linked, even if I don’t yet see how yet. I always have the same fundamental questions circulating through my thoughts. Right now, I’m investigating the self, in manifesting interior landscapes. My current work revolves around two quotes, “I’ve already lost touch with a couple of the people I used to be” and “Although of course, you end up becoming yourself”. The inaccessible interior parts, either from others or from ourselves.
You share a lot of studio photos, do you feel like a space to have things on display is vital for artists? How does your studio inspire your work?
Yes, I feel it’s imperative to see my the photos I make next to each other on a wall space. It helps facilitate more cohesive patterns and extend the conversations I’m having. They inevitable change in beneficial and creatively engaging ways – pushing my questions further and further along in the process. My studio is constantly inspiring me – having all my work through the many steps I’ve been working through is integral sometimes in moving forward for me. I can look back and see where I’ve been and what should organically seems to be my forward step.
What have been influences to your work not art related?
I’m a voracious reader, so fiction and poetry are indelibly linked to my work and my process. In general, I’m often attempting to create a feeling I’ve felt in response to written words (like, nothing is more beautiful to me than a sentence written by John Cheever). For fiction most recently I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Otteswa Moshfegh. As for poetry: Maggie Nelson, Tracy K. Smith, Kaveh Akbar.
Throughout all your different bodies of work you experiment a lot with technique, film, and other ways to manipulate your imagery. What are some of your favorite experiments?
I’m a sucker for anything hands-on. I love any type of alternative process (cyanotypes, lumens, van dyke browns). I love contact printing and learning new (old) techniques. I also love using natural materials (botanicals, dirt, fruit).
You use flowers, and plants a lot in your work? What role does nature play in the larger view of your practice and where does that inspiration come from?
Well, to quote Cheever directly, “I so love flowers, I can’t live without them. Should I suffer some financial reverses and have to chose between flowers and groceries I believe I would chose flowers”. When I first started using botanical matter and flowers, it just because I wanted to learn more about nature and being able to identify plants seemed like a good start. However, I quickly lost interest in being able to properly ID something and instead became fascinated with how different specimens decayed, what lost color, what stayed vibrant, what decayed and what dried out. I began collecting samples from everywhere and attempted all sorts of different preservation methods. It became an inquiry into death and time, pointing out moments of loss and moments of beauty. I also just adore flowers and any way I can continue to work with the things I love, I know I’m doing something right.
Who are the photographers you’re looking at now?
I’m constantly looking for new photographers. Most recently I’ve been deeply considering Stephen Shore, Carrie Mae Weems, Sally Mann is always and constantly on my mind, Sophie Calle. Just to name a few.
How would you describe the experience in transition from BFA to MFA? Do you have any advice for people who are looking to seek a Masters?
I took 5 years off between obtaining my BFA and beginning my current MFA program. I would highly recommend seeking a Masters. It’s pushed me in incredible and unpredicted ways. I’m forging so many special and intimate bonds. My one piece of advice (that every one of my professors has given me here) is this: Whatever you are absolutely most afraid of doing, do that and keep doing that.
Keep up with Caitlin Cloninger