Monday, February 21, 2011


I was very excited to find The Light Factory a few months back; it is an amazing resource bringing contemporary photography to Charlotte, offering classes and to my delight the Sunday Salon.  I attended my first salon yesterday and it is a great group of people interested in the art making aspects of photography.  Too often groups of photographers focus on gear and getting the perfect shot, it was very exciting and refreshing to meet with a group to discuss ideas and art.  I look forward to making the monthly meetings in the future.  This month we discussed the nude in photography in conjunction with the current show Body and Soul.  Towards the end Sally Mann came up and there were varying opinions of her methods and her work.  I had something to add but I just could not formulate the thoughts while at the meeting- there were certain words used in this interview on NPR about her most recent body of work that struck me but I couldn't remember them.  I came home and listened to the interview again.

I personally find Sally Mann's work, particularly of her children, to be beautiful and intriguing but I think that it is tainted by her methods.  In watching an Art 21 interview with her I started to see something that disturbed me in how she worked- that instead of collaborating with her children, her work came at their expense.  I also ask the people closest to me for help with my work and I remember telling my husband as we watched it that if I ever crossed that line I wanted to know because I never want to exploit my loved ones.  In the interview Melissa Block says that Mann thinks "a good picture often comes at the expense of the sitter.  Exploitation is at the root of it." This quote really struck me because I think it is exactly what I object to in her methods.  To knowingly and willingly bring exploitation into the mother-child relationship for the sake of one's art is I think disturbing and sadistic. In her newer work of her husband while that element of exploitation might still be there, at least he seems to be a willing participant in the process.

I sometimes miss the constant learning, thinking and being exposed to new ideas that comes with school.  In my year and a half as a stay at home mom I haven't had much opportunity to explore new ideas (aside from exploring patience at a whole new level).  The discussion at the Sunday Salon got my mind cranking and my creative motor purring.  I am hopeful that I will find in Charlotte those little pockets of community that are so very important for personal growth- a spiritual community, a creative community, a community of mothers.