No. 141 - Fall 2018 : HOME
Geoffrey Agrons ↪
Laura Andrés Esteban ↪
Michael Battaglia ↪
Jill Blanchar ↪
Alessandra Cumelli ↪
Jenna Dallaire ↪
Kristen Emack ↪
Terra Fondriest ↪
Hal Gage ↪
Dafna Grossman ↪
Kamila J. Gruss ↪
Karla Guerrero ↪
Terry Gydesen ↪
Pedro Isztin ↪
Ken Larmon ↪
Jennifer MacNeill ↪
Jennifer Maiotti ↪
Angela Manns ↪
Jorge Martin ↪
Barry & Dinah McNew ↪
Diane Peterson ↪
Allison Roberts ↪
Ioanna Sakellaraki ↪
Stephen Shames ↪
Cheryl Slechta ↪
Casie Zalud ↪
EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER: Lauren Semivan ↪
-Written by Susan Burnstine
Landscape with Allison © Lauren Semivan
Self-portraiture frequently involves the exploration of self-identity, but photographer Lauren Semivan reaches beyond traditional convention to create indefinite personal narratives that combine a variety of elements including science, music and abstraction. These complex images mirror spontaneous, stream of consciousness, dreamlike states, which allows them to stand out as truly unique.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Semivan studied violin from childhood through college. She remained passionate about music but felt there were limitations on ways a person could perform the classical violin repertoire since it always felt more structured and less interpretive to her. And it was these limitations that inspired her to shift her focus to photography.
While attending college, Semivan began using large format cameras and she became preoccupied with what she describes as “photography’s capacity to engage the unknown”. She says, “The study of music deeply affected how I approach my work as an artist. Both the violin and the camera are capable of abstraction and precision and I enjoy the tension between these two ideas.” She adds, “I have almost always used the large format view camera, which has defined the way I approach photographing. This camera encourages careful, deliberate decisions. It slows the process down and photographing becomes an even more meditative act.”
Semivan earned a BA in art from Lawrence University and an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art. After college, Semivan taught photography at her alma mater and she also supplemented her income with earnings generated from her photo studio. Later, she settled in Appleton, Wisconsin and she works full time in her photography studio.
Semivan’s father was an abstract painter and print maker. “Growing up in this environment I learned that art was a language in itself, and that art didn’t have to be representational and still could be intensely personal,” she says. As her work evolved over the years, she moved farther away from literal reference points and has become more interested in suggesting rather than showing.
Since she began creating personal work in 2004, Semivan developed five impressive series, including; Pataphysics, 2004- 2006, Weights and Measures (2007-2008), Observatory, 2009- 2013, Pitch 2014-2018 and Door into The Dark (2018 to present), which is currently ongoing.
Semivan intricately handcrafts her scenes using a variety of disciplines including, painting, sculpture, drawing and mark making. She also uses paper, paint, fabrics, string and feathers in the constructions. Additionally, she uses herself as a subject within her abstractions, but she never identifies her work as self-portraits.
Psychological abstracts are integrated in Semivan’s imagery while elements of science and music contribute largely to the work. “I see science, music and art as inherently connected,” she says. “It’s about how we process our environment as humans. The questions we ask about our world and how we respond to it.”
Semivan’s images are born from a deep, intuitive place and she never fully realizes their intention or considers the path they will take until she’s photographed the image several times. “Things reveal themselves and then I know how to move forward. I think my work started out being more influenced directly by dreams and my own personal narrative, but as it has developed I am more concerned with the imagery being completely devoid of specific reference points. I am more interested in suggesting or posing questions than revealing information or a specific story,” she says. “I may not necessarily be aware of how the images begin. They evolve out of the previous image or by chance operations. The process is what determines the next image.”
Semivan continues to use the same early 20th century Kodak 8x10 view camera to create her personal work for the past years. She scans her large format negatives and prints without digital manipulation. Her work is represented by Benrubi Gallery in New York and David Klein Gallery in Detroit.
In December, Semivan will have a solo exhibition featuring large format gelatin silver prints at Silver Eye for Photography in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. ■
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Osama Esid ↪
- by Douglas Beasley, Publisher
Syrian Refugees in Turkey © Osama Esid
This photo of Syrian Refugees in a Refugee Camp in Turkey is by Syrian born photographer Osama Esid, who now lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been photographing the refugee crisis in his homeland, with the eye of an artist rather than documentary photographer, for the past several years.
We dedicate this issue to all those displaced from their homes and to those who have no home. ■