Thursday, October 25, 2012

Behind the Masthead: Lara Shipley

We know you’ve been dying to get to know the rest of our staff (who put together issue #51 with an IN THE DARK theme, due out in November, and are close to wrapping up their selections for issue #52). Today, editorial assistant Gloria Bonnell sat down with Lara Shipley, our art editor, whose selection of photos for #51 will absolutely blow you away—just wait until you see the cover.

Gloria Bonnell: What are you reading currently?

Lara Shipley: Washington Square by Henry James and Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor.

GB: What kind of visual art excites you most? Whose art are you really loving right now?

LS: I have an appreciation for all visual arts but I am most passionate about photography. Whereas most other mediums are totally constructed by the artist, photography always contains within it a trace of something that existed outside the artist. There is a tension in photographs between wondering what is a construction and what is a document of the world. I find this blurry gray area between fact and fiction extremely interesting. (Ed. note: Being fans of fraudulent artifacts, HFR contributors David Shields and Matthew Vollmer would probably agree!)

Carolyn Drake is an artist that has interested me for a long time. She comes from a photojournalism background but has lately become increasingly experimental in her story telling techniques. Her work will be featured in the 52nd issue of Haydens Ferry.

GB: What are you creating right now?

LS: I am making handmade books. The first is called Most Nights, and will include 20 photographs and a poem I wrote from an ongoing photography project based in Southern Arizona: Coming and Going and Staying. You can see the work on my website (shameless self promotion).

GB: Imagine you could be anywhere in the world right now? Where would you go? Would you take a friend? Why would you go there? What would you do when you got there?

LS: One of my best friends is getting married this weekend in Santa Fe. I’m going there with my fella. There we will enjoy gorgeous fall weather and eat pie. Sorry to be so unimaginative, but I really can’t think of anything else I’d rather do at the moment. It’s going to be rad.

GB: What advice would you give to the young artist?

LS: Be self motivated. Don’t wait for other people to tell you to do something. Also pay attention to other artists in your field but don’t get bogged down trying to make work that you think will be successful. Make what most excites you.

GB: Where would I find you in a bookstore? What would you be doing?

LS: Pursuing the novels and photography books. Spending too much money.

GB: There’s a snack by your side and you are looking over the latest HFR submissions. What snack is it and what else is going on in the room? Do you notice or are you so engrossed that nothing can shake your interest in your work?

LS: I am in my studio, scarfing a falafel sandwich and trying to not get hummus on my keyboard. Flipping through a favorite online magazine I am delighted and overwhelmed by the abundance of wonderful photography being made today. I can’t help but overhear my studio mate explain camera basics to a photo 1 student who’s popped in for office hours. For a moment I become distracted by thinking about the pros and cons of being brand new versus an old hat, and maybe wishing you could somehow be both. Then a tomato slice falls into my lap.

***

Lara Shipley is a MFA candidate in photography at ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. With a background in photojournalism, Lara has credits at newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad. Her work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic Online, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, La Nacion, and The Miami Herald. Before coming to graduate school she was a photography producer for National Geographic Online and a freelance photographer in Washington D.C.

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