The artist statement
I recently made the decision to respond to a call to entry where I submitted five recently finished pieces for judging for the Sidney Zuber Photography Award which is being conducted by INFOCUS, a support organization of the Phoenix Art Museum. Over the past two years I have enjoyed so many of the exhibits at the Phoenix Art Museum and spent a significant amount of time looking at the frequently changing collections that when they promoted the call to entry I could not pass up the incredible opportunity to put my work forward for consideration by an institution that has brought me so much inspiration and joy.
Part of the submission process forced me to finally tackle something I had been putting off for a long time, my artist statement. I have tried so many times to sit down and write it, but I find writing an artist statement to be so painfully narcissistic that I will write a few words, save the document and shut it down and run quickly to my happy place. The problem I have had with the artist statement is that I think the work should speak for itself, who really cares what I have to say about it anyway?
An artist statement does matter. Why? The artist statement is for me as the creative first and for the audience second; it is a mission and values statement clearly articulating the work I create and who I aspire to be as a photographer. Sometimes it is hard for a creative to acknowledge that they are a business, but this is one area where we can learn something from a large company, they all have mission statements outlining who they are collectively as a business, what they do, how they do it and why they exist.
The last time I seriously looked at my artist statement was months ago and I was in transition to focus totally on fine art photography and it was not until I started Things That Go Bump In the Night when I had started to realize my direction as I documented here. Timing really is everything because I would have written something completely different last June than I have written recently.
Having to explain who I am as an artist is so painfully difficult because I feel like I can point to images I have created and said, “that is who I am right there” and that would be the end of it, but of course that is not the end of it. The work I create all comes from somewhere, the themes I deal with are all intentional, so I had to be very candid with myself and document Bryan Babich the artist and explain what I see in the work I create. The artist statement is also designed to be therapy for the tormented creative.
Figuring out what I was attracted to in creating, which is dark fine art conceptual photography was not easy. Last year I spent a lot of time on Pinterest where I added a private board and filled it with work I have created and the work of others that I was visually drawn to. I wrote notes on each pin saying what it was about the piece that captivated me such as lighting, an accent color, a feature of the subject, the types of subjects I liked to shoot, dark foreboding clouds in backgrounds, overall tone of the image, dilapidated industrial locations, the flow of the subjects hair, etc. When I looked at the hundreds of images that I had pinned I was able to find words that tied all of the imagery together and was able to define my own creative aesthetic.
Essentially all of these elements made up my artist statement and ended the self inflicted torture I was putting myself through. Once I was finished with the writing I was so happy that I had finally committed to completing the task and I feel very appreciative to the Sidney Zuber Photography Award call to entry in being the catalyst for me to complete it.
Here is my current final artist statement which I will be adding to the About Me part of my site soon:
The images I create are an embodiment of the fantastical and hyper realistic imagery of my imagination. Always having been captivated by the visual narrative process, photography evolved into the best means for me to bring my vivid ideas to life. I create what I see when I close my eyes, with all of the characters I want to meet and the places I am fascinated to see. Although many of my images have an otherworldly sense to them, I often try to ground the images with elements of reality to allow the mind the opportunity to question if the impossible could be possible. Often my work presents a conflict between light and dark, and my infatuation with the contention inspires me to create my own visual narrative.
Finding beauty in what is not conventionally considered to be beautiful compels me to create the pieces I work on. Exploring my own darkness and embracing uneasy elements inspire and provoke an ongoing artistic journey. Balancing the unsettling atmosphere of a dark space with a whimsical element, or the softness of the female form, provides the opportunity to find beauty in the unconventional. Perseverance and grace are recurring themes as well as life and death and the space between the dream world and reality.
Inspired by film and cinematic elements, I seek to create images that take the viewer to another world. By creating props, and often an entire environment, I desire to present a complete world beyond the frame in which the characters live. Each image is completely conceptualized and carefully planned as a written narrative, or drawings in a notebook before the photoshoot, creating an intentional creative process. The complete narrative process, understanding the larger story, props and wardrobe are the foundation of the visual storytelling; the camera and computer are the tools that capture and allow the things of dreams and imagination to awaken.