Priscilla Varner Artist Talk April 30th 5pm
I was really happy i went to hear Pricilla’s artist lecture because i was fascinated by the project AFTER hearing her lecture. Prior to going i was not enthused or interested in going to hear the talk at all, due to titling and the advertisement. It seemed a bit amateurish and uninteresting to me, but come to find out . . i was more interested than i thought i might be. I was fascinated in her realm of human interest and the story she sought out to tell and discuss. I was talking with another peer in photography and we both concluded that it might have been more interesting with actual photos of the women that were her subjects. The photos she presented were very amateur and snapshot quality of rather uninteresting stuff. It could have been a total hoax and photos of just random stuff Priscilla photographed to illude of her vision of a brothel type atmosphere. I'm not questioning the authenticity of her project but rather would have liked to see more of the material, the women. It seemed as though Priscilla had a subject but never revealed it to us and at the end left me with a bit of a lackluster feeling.
The approach she took to the subject matter was very sensitive, which i think worked well for her. And as she even mentioned in her talk of the time frame and after waiting two years that finally she reached an agreement with Mustang to allow her to follow through with her project. I can only imagine the time and dedication she put forth to get the results she desired. She also mentioned in her talk one of the women she gave a camera to only gave her one photo, which seemed so disappointing to me but she did not evoke that in her talk. Im sure she was a bit disappointed but she also explained she was taking up their time for no pay so she was grateful for what she got, speaks worlds of her appreciation and delicate manner in regards to this subject.
Another interesting element she spoke about were the actual subjects, the women. I found it so fascinating that one woman had this profession on her bucket list. I would have never thought but it humanized her subject content more than i think she could have. I have my own ideas of pushing the project but she did a great job talking about her experience with the project and the women. Her goal to show the “taboo” side as not so taboo i think was very effective through her talk. She talked very eloquently of her process, her ideas, methods and then digesting the material and putting it together in the fashion she did.
Ive got to say, growing up in the area and visiting the Mustang several times throughout years, i never had the impression that she spoke of others having the impression they did. But i also grew up with it and have more an open mind to accept things i'm not familiar with. So to me this idea was interesting because i never had the idea of the “taboo” aspect although i understood others of their perception for it to be taboo. I think it took her not to be exposed to it till now to truly understand the nature of her project and what she wanted to convey.
Also she spoke of a 12 year hiatus she took from photography and then came back but to digital and taught herself photoshop and the digital aspects of photography. That was also really impressive and takes a certain kind of personality to be able to have the drive and initiative in order to conquer or take on something so complex. Never meeting her before, she seemed to have a great personality and i imagine that allows individuals to open up to her and reveal sides she wants to portray that might be hard to get across. She also seemed to have that similar effect with “military wifes”, not sure if that was the actual title but she profiled wives of men in the military. She was able to talk about the stories that led to these individuals she photographed and had some interesting backstory that even she said was not portrayed very well by their head shot style photograph. She has some very interesting stories and lead ins to her photos that i think her aesthetics might lack in sharing. I want to see more of the women she spoke so much about in her project for “Emancipating Jane” and then something to relate to the wives of military officers and where she was pushing in relation to the direction of being married in the military and equal rights to gay couples within that organization.
Another project of hers, “8” where she interviewed individuals and asked them all what they wanted to be when they grew up when they were 8 years old. I thought this was an interesting project as well and worked with her portrait photo style photography because i assume she would include a bio of the individual and interview next to the photograph. The story she told of the lady who became a nurse due to the advice of her father to take care of herself and rely on no man, to which she then later became a wife and mother and then would fall into a traditional occupation of a secretary worker which she enjoyed and spent the rest of her time as. I think Priscilla likes to investigate people and the stories to their life, which i think all of us as humans finding our way through this strange world can connect with. She has an interesting aspect to her work where her focus is very much so on growth of individuals and their day to day life but i felt more of a change within myself listening to her work how amazing it is to hear other people's functions of life. We all operate differently and definitely under different circumstances but being able to hear it from a lecture i think adds more light to the topic, which she did very well. I still think her project could be pushed, either through her process or product but it feels like it is almost there. Again i am really glad i went to her talk because she had more to disclose through her stories than i think she did her work, which has helped me to discover how i might be able to push my work more too. I just finished a docu series of a burlesque troupe here in town and my focus was too narrow i think. Although my product came out very well and portrayed what i meant to portray, i think i might be able to push my product a bit more in order to share my story with the viewer a bit more. I think i wouldn't be able to come to this conclusion until i produced and stepped back to see the full product in large. Not that i am unhappy with how my project came out, but after attending Priscilla’s lecture i see now how she might be able to push hers and in turn where i might want to try and push my own. We are both storytellers through our work but becomes difficult to translate through other mediums that translation can become an issue.