Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of K.K.DePaul.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I lead a charmed life now . . . but it wasn’t always that way. My family hid a secret since the 1920’s and that legacy of ‘secret-keeping’ has shaped five generations of my family. My work in photography has been about revealing secrets, confronting demons, and reconstructing broken identities.
How did you get started photography?
I have always been involved in the arts. But the year I turned 50, all my hair fell out. My sense of identity was shattered, and my response was to hide. One day, a friend (who is now my husband) suggested that I photograph myself in the mirror. I was horrified at the thought, but one day I went into the bathroom armed with my camera and a roll of Scala B+W slide film. I shot the roll, but I didn’t have the film developed for another 8 months. After a year, my hair began to grow back, only instead of black, it was pure white. I sent those Scala slides off to be developed, now that I figured I was ‘safe’. When I held that first slide up to the light I was shocked at the emotion I was feeling. It was as if I was seeing myself for the first time, and I began to understand the power of the photographic image. The healing happened gradually as I began working with these images and telling my story. I saw the ‘black hair/white hair’ as positive and negative . . . a clear indication toward a life in photography.
Which photographers and other artists work do you admire?
Many years ago I wandered into a library in Paris and discovered Sarah Moon’s, “Little Red Riding Hood” series. This work literally stopped me in my tracks. I also love the mixed media work of Luis Gonzales Palma, Paul Cava, and Francesco Viscuso.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
I watch the fairytale films of Sarah Moon over and over . . . I never get tired of them. I love the combination of stills and video and the ambiguous quality of the narrative.
The stories are horrific and beautiful at the same time.
If no one saw your work, would you still create it?
Absolutely. My work is so intensely personal . . . almost like a diary. It’s how I make sense of my life and my close relationships.
Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day for you.
My perfect day begins at the local dog park. When my dog expends a lot of energy in the morning, he sleeps on my studio floor all afternoon. I am a collector. My studio looks like a flea market full of tintypes, insect collections, old books, charts, and mannequins. I surround myself with old photos, and paper. I usually start with a pile of elements that seem to be connected. As I move the elements around, I usually feel a prompt for a memory. It doesn’t come from an intellectual place at this point . . . it’s a visceral response. I feel it rather than know it. Later, when I have a collection of these pieces, I try to find the thread that connects them. This is the point where I begin the rough draft of the project statement.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
I am a mixed media artist trying to make my way in the world of photography. When viewers see my work online, they are often not aware that my work is an actual collage . . . not a photo of a collage. Since my work is ‘one of a kind’, it can’t be editioned and it can’t be exhibited at two places at the same time. I don’t really want to make prints of my work, but I do make handmade books of some of my projects.
If you could go out and shoot with another photographer living or passed who would it be?
My interest is more about the crafting of the photographic object, rather than shooting. I would love to watch artists in the studio . . . in particular, Alfons Alt, Paolo Gioli, and Francesco Viscuso.
How do you view this time in the history of photography?
The processes have changed dramatically since the digital revolution, but the focus (no pun intended) is still where it always has been . . . on compelling storytelling.
How do you over come a creative block?
I take the train somewhere. I find that I get a lot of great ideas/memories when I’m alone on a train.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?
I like my work to be somewhat ambiguous, but I try to give hints in my project statement and titles to help the viewer understand the framework that inspired the story. But I also leave room for the viewer to bring his own experiences into my work. I try to show that my very personal stories are, in fact, universal.
Would you like to share a story about one of your images?
My Mother/Myself. This piece is a photobooth frame of my mother at twenty and a photobooth frame of myself at twenty, superimposed. It’s about how young women struggle so hard to be different from their mothers . . . it’s almost as if they have to reject their mothers in order to find themselves. And then you get to an age where you realize that the two of you are versions of the same woman. And it is finally OK. My mom is ninety. She loves this piece.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects?
My work can currently be seen at the Griffin Museum of Photography, The Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Gray Gallery at East Carolina University School of Art and Design. My work is in the current issues of “Day Dreaming Magazine” and “Hand Magazine”. I will also be having a show at the Griffin Museum in January 2015 I am working on a new project, Only Child, which is about my complex relationship with my father. For a long time as a photographer, I chased other people’s stories. One day I realized that the stories I knew best were the ones already inside me, just waiting to be told.
Thank you for sharing your work with Rfotofolio, we look forward to seeing more of your work.
To learn more about K.K.DePaul please visit her site at, K.K.DePaul.