through the lense of awareness: a conversation with 2 artists / by Jennifer Davey

Vintage Landscape pinhole photograph courtesy of Laura Cofrin Juror's Choice Award, Lincoln Center Studio Tour Preview Exhibit, 2014

Vintage Landscape pinhole photograph courtesy of Laura Cofrin

Juror's Choice Award, Lincoln Center Studio Tour Preview Exhibit, 2014

The Fort Collins Studio Tour is coming up this weekend (June 28th-29th, 2014)  I wanted to highlight two of my favorite local artists, Laura Cofrin and Loretta Cummings, who will be at the Valhall Arts Studio in Old Town.  Valhall Arts is also sponsoring my studio and the three of us have been collaborating on preparations for the studio tour, as well as being tremendous friends and artistic support for one another.  I am excited to share a little bit about their inspirations and challenges in regards to being artists.

Cofrin is a photographer dedicated to expanding the idea of what a photograph can be, how it can be made, and what it can look like.  She can be found on online at www.lauracofrin.com.  You can see her Juror's Choice award winning photograph at The Lincoln Center Preview Exhibit.  Cummings encourages us to use attention, perception, and time as our art materials in order to make the world our studio.  "Try it, you'll like it!" encourages Cummings.   She can be found on twitter at www.twitter.com/thedarklobster.com.  Below is an image from Cummings (Art)making meta-work/One Year Project.  Cummings drew everyday for one year, recording each daily drawing and posting it on twitter.  You can see all drawings projected at The Lincoln Center for the Studio Tour Preview Exhibit.  

Still image from Loretta Cummings year long (Art)making meta-work/One Year Project.

While setting up for the studio tour last week, I asked them 2 key questions about being an artist....

What is most inspiring to you about making art and being an artist?

Laura:  Making art is a creative out-pouring, a way to express myself.  It is all about the action, it is playful and fun.  I truly love the a-ha moment when the piece is a success.  This is what keeps you going.  That magical moment of witnessing a scene through the lense of the camera.  It makes me hyper aware of myself in the world.  

Loretta:  Being an artist is a really good job.  It is in fact the best job you could ever have.  I am particularly inspired by Richard Wright, winner of the Turner Prize in 2009.  He states, "The fragility of the experience is the hinge for me.  It makes the work more like a musical performance, something that exists in the memory of the creator and the audience, but can't be owned, sold, or carried around."  For me art is a way to remember I am here-a way to come back to the point of now. The way I work is to build some sort of 'container' and then put things in to it to keep me present.  Anyone can do this.  As artists we can see that all can do it.  

What do you find most challenging about being an artist?

Laura:  Not having the technical knowledge to produce the idea that is in my mind.  Which leads me to another challenge-my lack of ability to give up control in the making of the project!  If I was able to do so, I might be able to more easily collaborate with others who have the tech (or other) knowlege I was seeking to bring my idea to fruition.   It is also challenging to realize the more I do something the less I know!  I am finally challenged by my audience's reception.  I sometimes feel that the viewer wants to be told what the art is about and would like a drive-by solution.  Instead, what inspires me in a viewer is curiousity and a willingness to actively look, ask questions, wonder and experience the artwork on their own terms.  I guess because of my science background, I am always exploring and looking for unexpected and surprising results that generate more questions.  It is really energizing to have this kind of viewer who is willing to dive in, ask questions, and not know where it might lead.  

Loretta:  It is challenging for me to continually run into the frame of reference from others "why isn't what you do making money?  But my interests in working as an artist and what inspires me does not concern making money, it is irrelevant.  However, on the flip side, I think artists have done themselves a dis-service by upholding the myth that they will make art at any cost, without desire for personal gain.  This is not real.  It denies that we need to live and sustain ourselves...so this is a kunundrom.   I also agree with Laura that it is challening to not have the technical knowledge to make the projects I want to make!

You can learn more from and experience art by both Loretta and Laura this weekend at the Studio Tour.  (No. 9n on your studio tour map)  Both artists look forward to engaging your curiousity and questions!