I haven’t written a blog post in an incredibly long time, it’s not for the lack of making or having things to say, but rather that I have produced so much work since we’ve last spoke that I have no clue where to even begin. My website (www.kaitlynjosmith.com) has gotten a beautiful facelift and I now have an Instagram (@kaitlynjosmithphoto) devoted solely to my photographic practice, I encourage you to stop by both. Senior year has proven to be incredibly challenging, in ways far different than I had expected. Though I am producing far more, far better work than ever before, I am struggling with the realization that I do not know and cannot know (at this time) what is next. I feel as if I’m being pulled in a million different directions and am totally overwhelmed. The desire to leave the city and never return is strong, and to make matters worse, last night when all I wanted was a hot bath to rid me of my troubles, our shower faucet broke spewing water everywhere.
With only four weeks (I nearly fainted as I typed that) left in the semester, I felt it was about time I sit down and reflect on what all I have accomplished. This also seemed fitting after the opening of The Line, a show I’ve been in charge of all semester, at the Sean Christopher Gallery in the Short North last night. I am proud of myself and what I’m doing, more so now than ever before. As I doubt my decision of leaving the country at all, I step back, look at these images and tell myself that as unconventional as it may seem, somebody has to photograph that life and those people. I feel a lot of guilt for my career choice from time to time, but I love Wyandot County with all I have and I’m realizing I wouldn’t have discovered that if I had never left.
While I’ve done a lot of smaller projects this semester, there are three main bodies of work that I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into. They keep taking me home, and I love that. This work has taught me so much about myself as a human and as a photographer. I now feel like I have a style that is distinctly mine and a way of working that doesn’t seem like work at all. Everything is being shot on film, and in my eyes, that is making everything I am doing much more honest. I’ve traded in my DSLR for a little Nikon point and shoot manufactured in 1999 that I found at Good Will, loaded with fujifilm that I buy at Walmart each week. The fact that it is so lightweight means that it goes everywhere with me, it is a non-intrusive way to shoot. My point and shoot resembles the cameras I used as a child (a bit of an upgrade perhaps) and it has removed me (almost) completely from the digital world I have been fighting these past four years. This camera is the exact tool I needed to stumble upon to tell my stories.
I had mentioned earlier that I am working on three main series of photographs. The first is my attempt at capturing Heaven, or perhaps Eden (I’m not entirely sure yet). This is my thesis work and because of that, is more developed than the rest. I’ve had to write an artist statement for it already, so I’ll share it with you here:
From a young age the thought of Heaven interested me; it also bored me. While bouncing around between clouds seemed fun to an adolescent self, as I grew older that imagery became less appealing. Through reading and research, a different picture of Heaven was painted. I developed an interest towards the vocabulary being used to describe such a place: “holy habitation”. This illustrative language pulled me in, pushing me to make photographs that reflected their beauty. I am revealing a Heaven far more intriguing than its blinding white counterpart. This Heaven seems to be within our reach. It is Eden: Paradise.
I’ve been wanting to make this work for a really long time, but didn’t trust myself with it until recently. I didn’t believe I had yet acquired the skills to make images beautiful enough to serve this idea justice. I am finally at a point in my education that I’m able to jump into such a large, complex topic. Though it’s nowhere near complete, here are a few of my favorite images of this work in no particular order.
My next step is to add figures into this series. I have found an Eve, who I will be photographing this coming Thursday.
The second body of work is the documentation of my hometown, Sycamore, Ohio. You can read my first entry about those images here. I was amazed by the number of people who read that blog post and the amount of wonderful feedback I got from so many of you. It is incredibly validating to know that the work I make, and am so incredibly passionate about, resonates with so many others, that my stories are your stories as well. Since posting that article, the banks new addition is nearly complete and the first part of the stacks have begun to come down. Here are the images I’ve made since I first shared with you a few months ago:
The last body of work is perhaps the most controversial and while I’ve felt obligated to make it, I haven’t really known how to talk about it. To give you a brief synopsis: this past summer, someone who was flying a confederate flag on their private property was asked to take it down: they didn’t. It made a lot of people angry that the city would try to tell somebody what they could/couldn’t have hanging on their house and so confederate flags began popping up all over town and throughout the country. Every time I come home, I find a new one. I am trying my hardest to find and photograph them all, working as an outside observer, trying my hardest to make this work unbiased and purely documentary. It is a thing that is happening and one that I’ve felt drawn to capture.
I have made a lot of other miscellaneous images these past few months, but I will save those for another entry, I feel as though these are more than enough images to share in one setting. As always, thank you for taking the time out to sift through my rambling.