Last summer, at the suggestion of a Spokane Falls Community College instructor, local photographer Clara Wilson applied to an event called Spectrum by RAW. The arts organization puts on one-night showcases that feature young artists in a variety of disciplines — film, fashion, dance, visual arts and more. At the time they were planning a show in the Spokane area that didn’t pan out, but the director of the upcoming Seattle show decided to go through Spokane submissions. Wilson’s photos caught her eye, and she got in touch.
Wilson, who also recently won third place in an international competition hosted by Photographers Forum Magazine, says she thinks it’s of utmost importance that artists support each other. So when she saw the Seattle event putting out a call for additional submissions, she encouraged Heather Biggs, Tyler Bolen and Jessica Flatt — friends and collaborators at SFCC — to also apply.
“I wanted to share this opportunity to show at RAW with others who I knew were great photographers and would appreciate this opportunity as much as I would,” she says.
All four were accepted for the show on April 17 at the Showbox. Artists are responsible for selling tickets to the event, so if you’re going to be in Seattle or feel like supporting them, you can purchase tickets here. More background on the show is here. They answered some of our questions about their art:
How did you get interested in photography, especially as an art form?
HEATHER: I was born and raised in Cheney, Washington. However, I always thought of Spokane as my home. My family is full of hunters and outdoorsmen, and they taught me to appreciate the land. I spent a good part of my childhood on the backroads of Washington. As a family we'd go for drives looking for wildlife about twice a week. When I was 21 I attended beauty school and fell in love with the magazines more than the art of cosmetology itself. I realized at that point that if I could mix fashion photography and the outdoors, I'd be set. So now, that's what I mainly do.
TYLER: I got interested in photography when I first took it as an art credit in high school. It wasn't until I was going to Spokane Falls Community College that I got into it as an art form.
JESSICA: I've always been interested in art, but photography struck my interest in high school. It wasn't until seven years later when I decided to go to college that I really realized what I could do with my photography and how I can turn something so plain into an amazing work of art.
What themes or messages are in your work? Are you more interested in the technical aspects of photography or in the ideas?
HEATHER: 90 percent of my work has to do with women and their struggles. It's not always obvious at first glance to the viewer, but they all have some sort of underlying theme. I think it’s important as a woman to photograph women being vulnerable, it's only at that point that you're truly your strongest.
Without the technical aspects of photography, it doesn't matter how fabulous your ideas are. I decided that on my own I wasn't able to get consistent results. So I went to SFCC in Spokane, and got the technical stuff down. Now that I know it, I can just focus on the ideas.
TYLER: The themes that are in my photography, as in my fine art work, are to show that there still is beauty in old and decaying things. For example, when I photograph abandoned places that aren't in great shape, I like to photograph it in a way that shows there is still beauty just like when it was first built.
JESSICA: The themes that I normally stick to are either Fantasy or Nature and Landscape. I try to mix the two when finding locations for my fine art pieces of work.
CLARA: My niche or genre in photography is conceptual fine art portraiture. My image making process is therapeutic for me, from beginning to end of the process. ... I love to play with light and draw emotion by setting the mood through different lighting sources and techniques. I love to mesh conceptual, tableau, fine art and portraiture. Doing so has enabled me to create a surreal bond between fiction and nonfiction, love and hate, happiness and sorrow.
What makes Spectrum by RAW a particularly good opportunity?
HEATHER: Raw is an amazing opportunity for someone from such a small town. Artists from all over are showcased in one venue — stylists, musicians, designers, dancers and photographers, all in one spot. You're surrounded by like-minded individuals, and have the opportunity to share your work with a much larger audience than an individual show.
TYLER: I submitted my work knowing that I might not get into the same show [Clara] got into, but at least that I might get into a different one. When I found out I got into the same one I was thrilled. Raw is a good opportunity because they focus on getting exposure for the talent out there.
JESSICA: This is a really great opportunity to get your name out there and be a part of group where artists support other artists. You are also in other cities, so your name gets out in other communities as well.
Do you feel like there's a lot going on in Spokane, or is it a disadvantage to be so far from cities like Seattle?
HEATHER: Spokane has come such a long way since I was a kid. The art scene has really picked up, and it's becoming a more culturally diverse area. Seattle I believe, is just a little bit ahead of Spokane — don't worry, we will catch up!
TYLER: Spokane doesn't have a lot going on as apposed to cities like Seattle, Portland, New York. Cities like those have, from what I have seen, more art galleries, art museums and a lot more art-related jobs.
JESSICA: I feel that there is a lot that goes on in Spokane, but I think there should be more publicity in getting these events out there and into the public eye.
CLARA: I feel Spokane has a lot going on for the art community. Events like Terrain and First Fridays are wonderful opportunities for photographers to try and get their work shown in multiple showcases around Spokane.
Find out more about the the show and their work here.