I studied art education in graduate school. On our first day of class, the professor asked us each to recount our earliest memory of making art. My first memory came to me immediately: I was in kindergarten, standing at a child-sized wooden easel, painting abstractly with a brush and tempera paints. I remember most of all the smell of the paint, but I also remember the way the brush felt as it dragged paint across the paper. I was wearing a smock and I felt like the queen of the world. This was where I was meant to be. My home life was chaotic (a troubled marriage – my parents’ – not mine – not yet!), but here at school, in front of the easel, I was transported into another world.
I still get that feeling when I paint – it is still an escape. I also get that same feeling when I look at the photography of Susie Forrester.
On June 12th, Susie Forrester opens her exhibition of photographs (Then and Now) at the home of her friend, Annette Heist (they are calling it Gallery 77 and it is located in Kunkletown, PA.). Susie makes a living photographing weddings. Her wedding shots are beautiful and fantastical; pure and simple, presenting a world where love is new and full of promise. If only the in and out days of actual marriage were as magical as the moments she captures!
Her personal work, shown in this exhibition, has many of the same qualities as her wedding work. First, they still feel like an escape. Second, they are photographs of people, places and objects that are quizzically juxtaposed, arrested in time. Susie captures one simple moment – one simple, yet precise, moment – that will never happen again in just the same way. A few examples of her work:
“My first camera was a Polaroid OneStep that I got when I was 12. I toted it everywhere, pretending I was a ‘serious artist’, saving my allowance to buy film. I didn’t just see pictures in the objects and life around me; I felt them. And being able to capture those feelings on film was thrilling.”
Years went by before Susie realized her vocation. It wasn’t until her senior year in college studying sociology that she took her first photography class and it changed the course of her life. It became her life: she talked to photographers, read photo books, took workshops and trips to museums to study prints in person. She became a master printer and studio manager to renowned photographer Larry Fink. In the pursuit of perfecting her printing skills, the darkroom became her sanctuary – her escape – a place to print, listen to music or think.
Technology has changed, and now Susie spends her time sitting in front of a computer, manipulating her photographs in Photoshop rather than in a tray of developer. What remains the same is her approach to photography. Whether she is using a Canon 5D, a Hasselbad or even her iphone, she still feels the same pang of excitement when she sees an image that she has to record. She no longer has her Polaroid One Step – it’s probably lost in a box in her parents’ basement (along with her Sociology textbooks from college!). However, about eight years ago, Susie bought a vintage Polaroid camera from the ’60’s that takes her right back to her One Step and makes her feel like the “serious” artist of her youth.
For more information and to view more work, visit www.forresterphoto.com. For information about the exhibition, Then and Now, and its opening reception on Sunday, June 12th from 2 – 6pm , email Susie at email@example.com, or for directions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prints of Susie’s work, framed, sell from between $75 – 500. Unframed, matted prints sell from between $20 and $75.
Please share your own first memories of making art in the comment section of this blog. I would love to hear them!