Megan Woods.

“Megan Woods is a convergent media major
and photography minor at Morehead State University, whose work is generally
experimental - focusing on a combination of principles such as light and
shadow, as well as experimental film processing. She is currently focusing her
work on experimental processes. Woods recently displayed her work in the 2019
University Open at LexArts in Lexington Ky, the 2019 Morehead State University
juried Spring Showcase at the Rowan County Arts Center in Morehead, Ky, the 2018
Morehead State University juried Student Art Exhibition at the Gateway Regional
Arts Center in Mt. Sterling, Ky.”

What is your name? How old are you? And, where are you from? In
your own words, what do you do?

My name is Megan Woods. I am 22
years old and am from San Diego, CA and currently live in Kentucky. I am
currently a convergent media major and photography minor at Morehead State
University.

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because
photography is something that I live for. Without it, I wouldn’t really know
what do to, as was the case before I started it. I want other people to see my
work and love it, of course. But I do it for me. If people don’t like it, oh
well. I do and that’s really all that matters to me.

What is integral to your practice?

Something that is integral to
my practice I would say is just finding beauty in things that most other people
overlook. My work often tends to be soothing to my audience. I like simplicity.

Why pinhole?

I came to like pinhole due to a
project I had in an alternative process class. We were required to make one
small pinhole for 4x5 images or smaller and one big one for 8x10 images or
larger. I am busy with other projects now, but plan to keep pursuing pinhole in
my spare time.

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?

I love abstractions, nature, and animals. It just depends on
what I feel like at the time. But it primarily revolves around abstractions and
nature.

Has your practice changed over time? If so, how?

I am kind of all over the place. I do digital, film and
alternative processes. I lean more towards the analogue side of things rather
than digital, however. It started out as being digital though. I feel that I
connect with my work a lot more when I use film or an alternative process
rather than with my digital camera. I love the feeling of curiosity and wonder
they give you. It’ not really something that I get with digital. I love seeing
the happy little surprises. It often times leads to my best work.

Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? And why?

There’s a few pieces of mine that I especially like, so it’s
hard to pick one. But there is a diptych photogram that I did recently that I
am particularly proud of.

From whom do you draw the most inspiration?

I draw the most inspiration from my photography professor, Dr.
Robyn Moore. She has taught me a lot in terms of how to become a better
photographer. She also has really helped me see photography in a way that I
didn’t before, by making me think of it on a physiological level.

What is your dream project?

My dream project would probably
be to travel the world and take pictures of animals in the wild and capture
them in such a way that it makes my audience connect to them on a physiological
level, and create them as salted paper prints.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I’ve been given
is to just pursue whatever it is I want to do. When I first started photography
I was really worried because people always say “you won’t make any money”. But
I’ve learned that I need to ignore it and just do me. If I don’t end up making any
money when I graduate, oh well. At least I am doing what I enjoy most.




Alesja Serada.

My name is Alesja Serada, I’m 35, I’m from Minsk, Belarus.

I’ve been through all kinds of ‘creative’ jobs in my life. Right now, I’m working at my Master’s thesis in Visual Culture, and I hope to continue my studies as a postgraduate student. My pinhole project started as a study project on visual sociology during my Master’s.

So, Alesja, why do you do what you do?

Actually, I started doing photography about ten years ago, as a way of connecting with the people and the world. My observation is, people usually do creative things to brighten up their reality, or to escape from reality, but I actually do it to keep in closer contact with reality, even if I can’t accept it with my heart.

What is integral to your practice?

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been doing photography for a while, mostly shooting mindlessly, but it only started working for me when I applied more theory I had learned in my Visual Culture programme. So, my practice is very cerebral now.

Why pinhole?

In 2018, my teacher challenged me to conduct an empirical study based on methodology of Bruno Latour. Bruno Latour is a French ‘rock star’ sociologist with controversial ideas, which don’t really work well empirically, so it was a real challenge. I recalled his popular example of a tin can floating in the sea, as a non-human agent that can actually see us. 

Then, I found Diana Pankova, who is a talented pinhole photographer - you can find her on Instagram as maverick_mariner - and conducted a small field study with her. We went out and made photographs with tin cans, and so it started. After my study course was over, I was encouraged to do a full scale artistic project, and this is what I am doing now, independently.

Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?

This specific project (“What The Tin Can Saw”) is about my city, Minsk, its architecture and planning. Minsk is a very ‘Soviet’ city, with a lot of Socialist architecture. A lot of it is absolutely hideous (like the area where I grew up), but there are certain districts which were meant for the Party elite, military professionals, and model workers. 

These parts of the city still show this imaginary picture of “happy socialism”, and for people in their 30’s and 40’s, they have this dreamlike air of nostalgia. Also, they are in decline now, as the official city development plan implies demolishing anything lower than three stories if it cannot be turned into a flashy tourist magnet. So, for this project, I am mostly photographing low story houses from 1950’s or older, with a particular interest to abandoned buildings or areas soon to be ‘developed’, as well as more distinct Soviet architecture to create more context.

Has your practice change over time? If so, how?

My composition skills have improved significantly over time. Also, I started with authentic Soviet photo paper from the 1970’s, simply because I was not ready to spend too much money on it, and many people in post-Soviet countries still have photo equipment and materials from their fathers and grandfathers somewhere on the upper shelf. I used modern paper later. But my instruments are still the same old tin cans, and I am not going to upgrade them for this project - they are a part of it. 

Is there a specific piece you’re especially proud of? And why?

There is one particular house in my photographs that was actually being demolished while I was taking pictures of it. And that one was not even Soviet heritage, it was from the XIX century or older! Conceptually, I should have tried even longer exposures, like, a week long, for that one, but I missed the chance. Still, it holds a special place in my heart.

From whom do you draw the most inspiration?

I’m mostly inspired by abstract ideas, like in that case with Latour. I think now I’d be able to do a visual project even on Karl Marx, even though it is not a pleasant reading, and certainly not an ‘inspiration’ in the usual sense.

What is your dream project?

I’d love to do an album cover. I haven’t mentioned music as my inspiration because it is a very different experience for me, cordial, not cerebral.  But I need this emotional connection, I just haven’t figured out yet how to connect.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Do not go quietly unto your grave” - it is a song by Morphine, and I relate to it a lot. 


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