Artist, curator, and educator Erin Carey had been a valued member of the Griffin Museum Community since 2019. We are so excited to have Erin join us as an instructor for Siren Song: Exploring Poetry & Photography and Making Better Pictures: Fundamentals of Design. We interviewed Erin to hear about the origins and influences of her Griffin State of Mind.
How did you first connect with the Griffin?
In 2008 I became Gallery Director at New England School of Photography and with my new appointment, I was invited to participate in NEPR as a reviewer that spring. I was completely new to the professional/academic photo scene in Boston and Keith Johnson, who was also teaching at NESOP at that time, took me under his wing introducing me to everyone including Paula, who later offered me (a perfect stranger!) a lift back to NESOP so I wouldn’t miss my afternoon class!
How do you involve photography in your everyday? Can you tell us about an image or images that have recently caught your eye?
I carry a small, fixed lens film camera in my pocket with me everywhere I go. You’ll find rolls of film in my backpack, jacket pockets, the arm rest of my car. It’s a tool that has served me well.
Since the onset of the pandemic, I have been spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about landscape as a construct. My first true love in photography was the large format, color landscape work of the 1970’s. Robert Adams has been at the forefront of my mind, “Summer Nights Walking” and “From the Missouri West.” Sternfeld’s “Oxbow Archive” has also been a close friend to me in recent months, quietly powerful and debilitatingly beautiful. Last week I attended a fabulous lecture at ICP by Richard Misrach and was reminded of how much Desert Cantos moved me so many years ago and how relevant that work continues to be.
Can you tell us about the new classes you are teaching at the Griffin?
I am so excited about Siren Song, it’s the first time I am offering it and it is many years in the making. I’ve always felt photography has everything to do with poetry… perhaps it has to do with asking questions and leaving something to the imagination.
Has there been a Griffin exhibition that is a favorite of yours?
This is Bliss by Jon Horvath was on view last winter, right before the pandemic hit. It is a magical and melancholy essay on a disappearing town in the midwest.
What is your favorite place to escape to?
I grew up spending summers in the lakes region of the white mountains and am extremely lucky to be able to spend time there as an adult. I also live near the seacoast, so when I can’t get away to the mountains I enjoy foggy bike rides on the Merrimack river.
What is one book, song or visual obsession you have at the moment?
Kamasi Washington’s Harmony of Difference is on my playlist every day. It was written as a collaboration with a film maker and debuted at the 2017 Whitney Biennial. I am continually surprised by the movements and the energy.
If you could be in a room with anyone to have a conversation, who would it be and what would you talk about?
How can I answer this? There are so many people I could name here, historical figures, artists, deceased family members. In an attempt to keep the conversation related to photography I’d have to say Saul Leiter. I cannot imagine where the conversation might have taken us and that would have been part of the delight…no agenda at all, just coffee, a plaid scarf, a pile of books, and some stories about New York and art.