Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekend Reads: The Photography Edition

To say I am wildly excited about an exhibit opening today would be a vast understatement. I am ecstatic.

I was even more thrilled to see The New York Times running a piece on Vivian Maier today as I've been smitten with her work for some time now.

If you are not familiar with the work of Vivian Maier you are not alone. She was a Chicago area nanny for most of her life, taking photographs in her spare time. No one had ever seen her work until storage locker contents were put up for auction and a young man purchased some of her photographs looking for images of the area for another project. What he discovered is, arguably, one of the finest street photographers we've ever seen (clearly this interjection is my opinion, but I know others share similar sentiments). Her work is stunning - and massive at over 100,000 negatives alone.

I am lucky enough to live in a place where we can be some of the first people to see her work exhibited on a larger scale, for free, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The opening reception is today and the show runs through March 24th.

There is also an upcoming film about her work, as well as a blog.

Ms. Maier passed away just a one day after the now custodian of her work, John Maloof, finally discovered her name on an envelope and a few days before he did a search for her name on the internet.

It's not entirely rare for me to have my breath taken away by artwork, even less so for me to be moved to tears, but almost always it's in a museum, at an opera, or a similar venue. The moment I saw the first image of Vivan Maier's I was completely blown away. Her work is technically and artistically adept - and for someone like myself, who likes to fumble around with my camera, it is entirely humbling.

If you have a moment this is an excellent piece about Vivian Maier, John Maloof, and what's to come:

You'll probably hear a lot about Vivian Maier in the days to come - the news of the show, and her story are beginning to spread like wildfire, and justifiably so.

Another photographer, Remy Haynes is also making headlines, but for a different reason.

Finding her work-load suffering in the face of the recession and budgetary cutback Ms. Haynes decided to dedicate herself to a different kind of project, something she's called The Currency Project.

Instead of viewing the slowing in her business and friend's layoffs in a negative light, Ms. Haynes decided to document the positive aspect of a recession. She decided to seek out and highlight how layoffs, cutback, and huge life adjustments were changing people...for the better.

The term currency here is meant to be applied more wholly, to translate to what currency really is other than money: time, family, happiness, etc.

The project has now turned into a book. Ms. Haynes has has one gallery showing and it looking forward to more to come. In the meantime she's still meeting people, discussing their stories, and following her newfound passion.

Remy Haynes book, exhibits, and story telling are inspiring - especially for those of you who are creative. She's worth a listen and watch in the videos for her advice and transparency of process, and while none of it is exceptionally new it is a good reminder.

To find out more visit some of the above links or watch:

 "Happiness is where you find it; rarely, where you seek it." 
– Barbara Harrington

Happy reading & watching - and a fabulous weekend!


Melissa said...

I stumbled on Vivian Maier ages ago and you are right - stunning! She captured one of my favourite periods in history in a remarkable way and I am very jealous you are getting to see one of the first public exhibits. I am a huge fan of Fred Herzog and although he mainly shot in colour and in Vancouver, there is something about both their styles that enthralls me.

Tricia said...

Ah, but good color work is so valuable and so under appreciated! I love that period as well, sometimes, admittedly, more for the fashion than the composition!

I think that's what struck me most about Vivian Maier's work - that I wasn't distracted by the era-dense clothing, but more the small moments.

It's all I can do not to go crash the opening tonight, but I'll restrain myself!

k said...

Oh my gosh, I love this post....I can't wait to go stalk some of those photos!

Brandi said...

I so wish I could see that exhibit in person! And I really can't wait to hear more about The Currency Project -- it sounds like a brilliant idea.

ane pixestos said...

What a neat project; I find it fascinating how there are so many different avenues to the same ideas (honouring the "currency" that is time and love). Thank you for this post!

Gina Leigh said...

Thanks so much for passing on this amazing stories about Vivian Maier. I consider Chicago my "home away from home" so this is especially touching to me. I miss Chicago dearly!

Tricia said...

Gina! Come on home! We'll save a space for you! ;)

Kerry Doyle said...

Wow! I loved this post! Thanks so much for sharing this...