What is your earliest memory of the arts? Did you experience the arts growing up?
I actually started drawing at a very early age, photography came much later. My family moved to the states from Moscow and were working, going to school and learning English days and nights. I spent a lot of time alone creating. My mother signed me up for a drawing class and I was fascinated with the way colors mixed together. The visual fascination of viewing art soon followed. I loved museums, art books, live music, plays. Anything that seemed to pierce the norm and give way to a sort of fantasy realm. I am the only one in my family who followed an artistic path. Art was never seen as a way to make a living or even really as a form of self expression at home. I realized at a very early age that any sort of creation was a tool for learning yourself and evolving as a being. I was fortunate enough to coordinate a social circle of very talented and supportive artists that were on the same page of the importance of art and still continue to fuel my desire to create.
Why are the arts important to you?
The Arts have been a tool for me to connect with others as well as with myself. Visual, musical or performance art are communicators that pierce through social backgrounds, language, or ethnicities. It allows us to pull the strings of the workings of our inner worlds and lets us connect with the outside world. Art forms hold history, stories, human emotion, lessons, answers. It has the ability to become a channel of our very soul and penetrate through physical barriers with the hardest barrier being ourselves. For me, creating photographs has been a way of creating a language that humanity's words cannot express. A feeling that everybody understands but cannot verbally express. To create art in any capacity is to learn and then transmit that knowledge to the next generation and the next. It is vital for us as beings.
What is inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for inspiration?
My first and foremost inspiration has always been inspired by books and writing. Some favorites that I always reread throughout the years are Carl Jung, Herman Hesse, Borgess,and Rumi. The study of archetypes, symbology, and the unconsciousness always fueled the thought process behind my imagery. Even for visual artists, I gather inspiration and connection from not only the content produced by them but their lives and thoughts in between. I love Georgia O'keeffe's lifestyle and items she was attracted to such as the desert, bones and black dresses. The philosophical intertwining of Minor White’s black and white imagery. Misha Gordin’s dark room conceptual photographs created through questioning humanity and human emotion. Salvador Dali’s mystical world ladened with symbolism. Icelandic artist Ragnar kjartansson and his soul moving music/film performances. Daehyun Kim’s simple, elegant illustrations of self and duality. The purest form of inspiration that I look to has always been silence and the natural word. The sea, mountains, wind, desert, offer us so much ancient knowledge that if we are still enough, patient and wise enough, we will have the honor to hear it.
Why is photography your chosen medium? What makes photography unique?
When I first picked up a camera, I fell in love with the dark room. I lost hours upon hours locked in there printing images. It was a heavily introspective time for me that the printing process and the dark room itself allowed me to explore. When I started traveling more, I realized how the art of looking and wandering fused into my love of hiking and the outdoors. My images are created on solo treks, road trips, and camping trips. They are devoted to the art of seeing. Not just passing through the day but picking apart a moment in time and uncovering meaning and synchronicity. Through photography, I stay true to my inner need to wander, fill my dosage of solitude and am able to illustrate a combination of what exists in my unconsciousness and what my eyes see. I am not only creating on a blank slate but I am looking for what is already in front of me and piecing it together. It becomes like a visual maze or puzzle. This art of looking and wandering contain a major meditative factor for me. Through finding these photographs, I learn, I acknowledge and I evolve.
How has your style/aesthetic changed over the years?
I started out creating stylized imagery back in college that was vastly different to my landscapes now. I used the female nude figure, mirrors, symbolic objects frequently all combined with a dark macabre twist created in an indoor studio. The main philosophical focus was the duality of a human being. As I started traveling more, I simplified my content in each photograph and used what was available to me to carry out my meaning and intention. The philosophical goal remained the same but instead of only creating, I looked.
My projection for the next photo series is to combine my love for fine art landscape imagery with a darker symbolic twist.
What's your process like?
My main intention anytime I travel is to take photos. I don't remember the last time i took a “relaxing” trip. I do some research on national parks, public lands, roads, countries that have landscapes resembling otherworldly alien-like features. I'll check google maps, social media accounts, and touristy photos online. I plan out sunset and sunrise times and see if I can camp or sleep in my car near each location. In the past few years of photographing, my project “Ant Farm” has been my main focus. It entails photographing with a long lens from a far distance and searching for miniature silhouetted people in the distance. I am constantly running around using light/shadow and physical distance to align each person with a particular spot in the frame. My viewpoint and intention has to be flexible and adapt to the weather, the land, and other obstacles. Even though my mind's eye already knows what it is looking for, the final image is many times a surprise and out of my control. I currently shoot digitally but am hoping to readapt my film days in the next series. The past few years of Ant farm has been focused on keeping the content as pure as possible. Editing is used to enhance highlight and shadow, clarity, slight color temp adjustment depending on the mood of the image and the occasional removal of foreground distractions. I categorize my landscapes as fine art over a straight documentation style.
Is there a dream place/project you'd like to photograph?
Next on my list to travel to is the Atacama desert in Chile, the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia and to get a camper van and road trip through New Zealand. I really love the American South West and am always trying to plan trips out to the desert. I created a project back in 2015 where I combined meditative blue toned landscapes devoid of humans and paired them with sounds that humans create moving through the landscapes. I am looking to continue part 2 of that sound/photo exploration in relation to meditation and introspection.