Sitting in a historic room, warmed by a fire roaring in the fireplace, we met Cody Edison, a photographer, historian, and storyteller who is just starting his artistic journey.
How did you come to photography and the visual arts?
When I was introduced to Akira Kurosawa my interest in the tradition and art of story telling developed. When I was 15, visiting a photography gallery in Carmel, I saw my first Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz prints, and I knew my calling was to become an artist. So I began my studies in photography, which eventually led to interests in other creative mediums like curatorial practice, production, poetry and video.
How does photography influence the way you see the world?
I am not sure it has, I know I have always seen the same way. I have always been exhilarated by image making and the discipline has come naturally. A photograph is a slice of eternity as Mr.Steiglitz put it, but also a tool for conversation, and as all art does, has the possibility of healing.
The patience of the photographic process translates as silence and an attraction to being fully present and this lured me to the medium more than any other reason. While I am proficient in digital photography, I am more challenged by the aesthetic demand from my analog work. That challenge is to get it right once. It is like building a musical composition, and that is where the silence translates to music in my process and imagined (latent) image in my head. It is the feeling of accomplishment when the image is finally printed that keeps me working with photography as an artistic priority among other mediums.
Who and what inspires you?
If I did not have my close friends and family, as I do now, it would be impossibly difficult for me to continue becoming an artist and creating work.
Right now the artists I am most inspired by are the mentors I had at CalArts. Now that I graduated from CalArts, more than ever all the questions they posed to me and conversations we had are echoing back to me constantly, especially as I try to find my bearing in this world.
Finally, without a doubt, Kim and Gina Weston have inspired me and supported me, for so long, and in such profound ways. I owe a lot to them.
Can you tell us about what the Weston Scholarship meant to you? (Cody won the Weston Scholarship in 2008.)
Well, I think most importantly it was my foundation for a belief in a career as an artist, and it was the beginning of my relationship with Kim, Gina and Zack. The scholarship experience was the very first time I saw my work on a gallery wall. It was also the first time I was in a group show and won a prize for my work. This is a moment as important as seeing your first image appear in developer in the dark room. One you will never, ever, forget. The scholarship was a huge boost of creative confidence at that time, as I was preparing to enter CalArts for undergraduate photography and media studies. With my prize I treated my self to a 50mm Leica lens and it is one of my most prized possessions. I now work for Kim and Gina editing films and helping as they need.
Why are you compelled to tell the stories you chose. what about them connects with you?
A while back I was reading Lord Byron’s “Manfred” poem, after seeing Gustavo Duhamel and the LA Phil play Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, and after I finished the poem I found in the bio of Lord Byron a line that stuck out to me. His work sought to show and represent the historical patterns and continuities which connected the present to the recent and distant past. Music can function the same way. Whether it be the old folks songs, or songs and stories shared in the evolving, Origins Anthology project, they seem as the best vehicles to revisit different histories and see how things are similar today, so that is a big part of the equation for my work and interest in stories.
Tell us a little bit about your experiences so far, working in the visual arts? Any surprises?
It was a big surprise when I realized I had to adapt and hone my techniques due to discontinued film supplies. I quickly saw one of my favorite films (Kodak HIE) disappear. I had just started working with it and was getting phenomenal results, but seeing it disappear amplified my desires to work with analog photography… but I am still mourning Kodak HIE’s discontinuation.
How do you challenge yourself creatively? How do you go about setting goals for you art?
Ideas lead an artist down the road, such focus has evolved my work in ways I never could have for seen a few years ago.
In your eyes what makes a great photograph? a great work of art?
A great work of art, like good humor, must make you think. With that said, a Charles Bukowski quote often comes to my mind… “An Intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way, an Artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”
What format do you work in?
With photography 35mm, large format 4 x 5 and video.
Thank you Cody for your time and your art.
You can see more of Cody’s work at Cody Edison
To find out more about the Weston Scholarship please go to Weston Scholarship