Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mini Interview with Branch Gallery artist Tabitha Soren


Tell us a little about yourself.
I started out thinking my pictures needed to be hard to love for them to be art. But then I remembered how much I respond to the beauty in J.W.M. Turner’s paintings and to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs. I am patiently waiting for the sublime to come back into fashion in the art world.

Tell us a little bit about the works featured in the Dreamtime exhibit.

YOU CALL THAT DARK? was made on a dirt driveway in Hawaii. I dragged my 9 year old daughter out of bed before dawn, drove her to the end of the driveway, turned on the rental car’s headlights and asked her to run back and forth in her flip flops. It was her idea to put her nightgown on backwards. She felt like she was too old to be wearing Disney princesses in a picture. To her chagrin, the picture we liked best shows her and the prin cesses from the back.

When/ how did you get into photography?
I was born into a US Air Force military family but grew up all over the world. I left behind homes, friends, schools and neighborhoods every 3-4 years. Taking snapshots was the only way to remember the people, places and things that c ombined to make me turn out the way I am. After getting married, I ended up at Stanford University. The wonderful professors (Joel Leivick, Bob Dawson, Alex Nemerov) in the Art and Art History departments, encouraged me to make time to fall in love with photography all over again.

What is your favorite camera to use?
After a decade of shooting film with a simple Hassleblad 501cm , I have started projects that really do n’t work with a square format. I have been renting a bunch of different cameras as of late to see which one to buy to use for the next 10 years. YOU COME TO MIND from Dreamtime is one of my first rectangular images that I felt deserved to be in an art gallery.

Which artists inspire you-either in your artmaking or in life.
I really like Elizabeth Peyton’s portraits and Gerhard Richter’s paintings of people. Kara Walker has also been a huge inspiration. I have learned a lot from Director Phil Morrison (Junebug) and Producer Rick Rubin (Dixie Chicks, AC DC, LL Cool J, System of a Down). But lately, it’s comedian Aziz Ansari is who really keeps me going.

What is next for you?
My work is currently in group shows in a bunch of cities in the United States: Seattle, Washington, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, Brooklyn and of course, at Branch in Oakland. I have two new series in the works. One of them is a series of ocean landscapes called PANIC BEACH. I don’t really care for the outdoors so this is a stretch for me. The catalyst for the second new project is YOU CALL THAT DARK? from the Dreamtime show. The projects look very different but they are about the same thing: what people survive and what they don’t. Life can be rough and reckless with human beings. I am continually struck by the amount of misfortune catastrophe people can endure in a lifetime.