|Taken 12.5.14 at the Art Hop Die-In on the Kalamazoo Mall|
Some of you may have wondered why Freshwater has been relatively quiet over the last few months.
Several years before her death, I asked my grandmother, LaMoine, whose name I’ve inherited, what it was she most feared. She paused a second before answering “War. And the impact war has on children.” What my grandmother valued most in the world was beauty. She'd sit for hours and watch the surface of Lake Walloon, often had bouquets of fresh cut flowers in the house, and had a keen sense of style. I think of her often when the sunlight catches the tree branches outside my window.
If you're paying attention to the pulse of the nation right now, there’s no question that we're caught in a state of war. The indiscriminate killings of unarmed black and brown women, men, and children, by law enforcement officers rings in our ears daily. It fills our newsfeeds. Rekia Boyd, Walter Scott, Jessie Hernandez, Eric Harris, Miriam Carey, Kevin Davis, Aiyana Stanley Jones, Yvette Smith, Meagan Hockaday, Akai Gurley, Tony Robinson, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Aura Rosser, the list goes on. And yet, communities are rising up, cultivating resistance, dialogue, celebration, and art. As Americans, we are caught between war and beauty, celebration and death, change and stagnancy.
Since late last year I’ve been involved with an organization called Kalamazoo4Justice. We are working to change the social and political landscape with regards to systemic racism and oppression, both locally, and in solidarity with the national #BlackLivesMatter movement. Much of my photography has taken place within this context. I haven’t shared much of that because I’ve felt a tension with doing so under the banner of Freshwater Photography. Not because I believe these issues aren’t front and center, or the complexity shouldn’t be placed in front of an audience. But because Freshwater was, from its inception, a commercial enterprise.
I’ve been chewing on the question of splitting Freshwater into another endeavor. Again, not because I don’t value the work I do with Freshwater, and certainly not because I believe in an artificial separation between art and politics or, more specifically, family portraits and the political. What I’ve realized is that the intention is different. The intention of taking senior portraits is different than the intention of photos at a protest or photography with an overtly political message.
This decision has been a hard one for me. I don’t want to give the impression that I feel my activist photography would negatively impact my commercial enterprise. What I have discovered, however, is that trying to blend the two has limited my artistic capacities on both sides.
To that end and with the spirit of my grandmother in mind, I’ve decided to create a separate brand of my photography. With a both/and approach, Kaitlin LaMoine Photography or @KaitlinLaMoine will be a space for me to investigate the messy entrails of the shift that is happening in America right now, the shift which is connected to larger changes happening across the globe. It is my hope that my pictures can both uplift, investigate, celebrate, and challenge the current state of affairs.
|Here's a preview of one project related to Kalamazoo4Justice: I took a series of portraits with members displaying messages of why they're involved with the movement.|
I recently joined twitter and will be posting many pictures to my account there, @KaitlinLaMoine. Future series will be displayed in a separate blog. At the end of the day, as several of my friends have pointed out, "It's all Kaitlin."
@KaitlinLaMoine is not just a space for protest pictures. I hope to engage in a series of projects which explore the nature of activism and the human condition. Over the next few weeks I’ll be catching you up on my recent activities. I hope you will continue to support my work and my growth as an artist, as you have so far with Freshwater. And don’t worry, for those of you who would rather just look at newborn pictures (which is totally valid in a world saturated with suffering) I’m not abandoning my work there. I hope to see you in both settings.