Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Long lived The Carousel

"Leaves, 2007" by Danielle Scruggs (http://www.daniellescruggs.com/)
For the past month or so, I've been glued to my computer, learning the basics of InDesign, how to give our publication some flare. What to keep and what to throw away or approach differently were among the questions I had to attend as managing editor. And finally, there was the issue of the cover. What would communicate the theme just the way I wanted it to? I must have looked at almost a hundred photos until I came across Ms. Scrugg's photo. Like Scruggs, I come from a family of visual artists. The way that her two subjects are framed, side by side, struck me. With our issue being "new beginnings" I couldn't help but think of all of the new and unfamiliar paths writers must take and also abandon to make this writing life thing work. I am very humbled by the generosity of my colleagues here at the Writer's Center. Often we worked late into the evening, and most recently through the weekend. And finally, a very special thanks to all of the instructors, writers who will read at the Center in coming months, and the very talented Ms. Scruggs for donating her art to us for this issue--Thanks a million!
Will Grofic, our Publication's intern, spoke with Danielle Scruggs, the photographer whose photograph "Leaves, 2007" graces our cover in our newly designed themed issue of The Carousel.
What about this pavement and space made you snap the picture in the first place?

Well, at the time I had just started a project on solitude, the nature of absence and presence. I wanted to find places that were quiet and could convey what I wanted to say about those subjects. Plus there were aesthetic qualities too: the lighting, the placement of the leaves on the ground. Something about that area, which was just a few blocks from my apartment spoke to me.

Why'd you take two photographs of the same space? Did you take them at the same time? Different times?

I think the accumulation of time, of moments building up and passing by is one the largest defining factors of solitude and I thought using diptychs would be the best way to illustrate that progression. For all the photos in that series, they were taken moments apart, with mostly subtle changes between the two images.

How did you decide on photography as your artistic medium of choice?

I guess because photography has always been a part of my life. My dad was a photographer in the Army and when I was growing up, he showed me how to use his camera, encouraged me to take art classes, even gave me his old notebooks on darkroom film and print processing. Sometimes we would even go out shooting together and we still critique each other's work. What I've always loved about photography is that it gives me the chance to capture a single moment and then freeze and preserve it forever. Also, there's something about having a camera up to your eye that gives you permission to do things you couldn't do otherwise.

What is your creative process? Is there a difference between your writing and photography creative processes?

My creative process I guess, is a lot of trial and error. A lot of improvisation, some of it's following my intuition. I think I'm learning more and more to trust my instincts more and that if I'm working on something that starts to veer from my original idea or intent, that it's all right to explore another avenue, instead of rigidly following that original idea, if that makes any sense. I think I approach writing the same way I do photography.

What about the DC area inspires you artistically and visually?
The contrasts. High culture and low culture seem to live nudged against each other out here and I enjoy that contrast.

As "New Beginnings" is our theme this time, I have to ask, what does "new beginnings" mean to you?
To me that means moving forward. The need to push myself in whatever I do, and to never become complacent, even when the easiest thing would be to do the exact opposite.
Send us your thoughts on The Carousel at thecarousel@writer.org

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