In today’s Griffin State of Mind, it is a great pleasure to introduce the newest member of the Griffin team, Elizabeth Buckley. Coming full circle as an early Photography Atelier student, now an instructor, Elizabeth can’t wait to get started this September. Welcome to the Griffin Elizabeth!
ELIZABETH BUCKLEY is a photography based Artist-Educator, whose current preoccupations are image sequencing, assemblage, social and cultural considerations and humor. She often presents her work in handmade artist books and installations. In addition to digital photography, she has also worked in graphic design, set design for theatre, and enjoys mixed media and experimental photographic processes. Buckley has exhibited her work nationally. Most recently, Buckley taught Digital Imaging, Illustration, and Layout programs to Fashion Communication and Merchandising Students at Lasell College. In the past, she taught extensively in the Photography & Media Arts Dept. at Chester College of New England (Chester, NH). The highlights of her time there were facilitating a study abroad residency in Ireland at the Burren College of Art (Ballyvaughan, County Clare), and guiding students in Directed Study projects. Buckley earned her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College (Plainfield VT) in 2005, which informs her current art practice and teaching. She also holds a BA in Photography from Salem State University (Salem MA).
Tell us how you first connected to the Griffin Museum.
Years ago I was accepted into an exhibit held at the Griffin Museum, and attended the opening. I remember being impressed with the beautiful gallery devoted to Photography. I often prefer regular Museum hours though; the Griffin Museum is a peaceful place where you can spend time experiencing images and exhibits at a slower, more meaningful pace.
How do you involve photography in your everyday life?
I’ve been editing an image, nearly daily for several years, as a simple exercise in possibilities. Many are images I passed by before. I try to see them with fresh eyes. I’m mostly drawn to these daily exercises for their lack of focus on specific outcomes, which frees you to discover new ideas and processes.
Can you tell us about any images or artists that have caught your attention recently?
I recently revisited August Sander’s portrait work. I had the thought then that I should revisit Diane Arbus too. I found a review of Diane Arbus & August Sander, an exhibition at the Edwynn Houk Gallery In Zurich in 2011. It’s interesting to study what connected them, and why I was instinctively seeing it. Examining connections like this helps you consider your own place, and context among other photographers.
As a new instructor for the Photography Atelier, can you talk a bit about your philosophy for this creative program? I’ve taken part in the Atelier myself, very early in its inception at Radcliffe College in 2001, and my experiences there were important in my own artistic development. I see the current Atelier as a community finding connections, both between each other and between the images that we present. When stretching out ideas, we’ll give space to learn from perceived success or failure in order to give room for unexpected discoveries, and define personal preferences in our own work. We’ll ask questions that begin with “what if__?” and “why not__?”. Then we’ll refine our intentions, grow our projects, and consider traditional and alternative ways to best present our photography for exhibition.
Has there been a Griffin Museum exhibition that has particularly engaged or moved you? I just visited the Griffin Museum this week and saw Spirit: Focus on Indigenous Art, Artists and Issues. The exhibition’s considerations of indigenous identity are quite moving. But I was especially engaged by it as a group exhibition. It included ten photographic artists all addressing the same social concerns, but each artist’s process seemed significantly different. I spent some time with each participant’s presentation, to study how and why they may have made their choices in bringing the final images to exhibition.
What is your favorite place to escape to? Living in nature in general, with few belongings, at the water’s edge of a river or lake. My work often includes organic elements, so this feeds the actual making of some images, but also provides a spiritual connection with nature.
What visual obsession do you have at the moment?
It’s actually an ongoing visual attraction. I have often photographed hands, but for a variety of reasons – sometimes as a portrait, sometimes for the hand’s ability to express and communicate, sometimes to represent humankind, sometimes to suggest a narrative or to make marks, and sometimes simply for their ability to hold things.
If you could be in a room with anyone to have a conversation, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I think it would be great to have a cup of tea with Alfred Steiglitz and talk about art and photography. His skill in curating exhibits and championing photography are legendary. Also, I can hardly believe the changes and progress in Photography in my own lifetime. It might be great fun to show Steiglitz the Internet and explain Instagram.