Rfotofolio is pleased to share the work and words of Rebecca Sexton Larson.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up an only child; my father was a career military officer so we moved about every two years. The one constant in my life was art, taking painting classes at a very young age. I went to college in Florida to study painting, but my father was concerned that I was going to graduate with a fine art degree and would not be able to get a job – so I double majored in painting and photojournalism. Not exactly what my Dad had in mind as a good backup degree – I’m sure he was hoping I would be an engineer or doctor. I’m proud to say, I utilize both degrees and its skill sets in producing my art. In addition to being a full-time artist, I work as a chief curator at a museum in Maitland, Fla.
How did you get started in photography?
My first job out of college was working in law enforcement producing training videos/photographs for Sheriff’s deputies. From there I went on to work as a medical photographer at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. In the late 80s, I decided to make a go of it with my artwork. I knew I wanted to create large hand painted photographs, but did not have the funds to purchase a large format camera. So I began making my own cameras (pinhole). I worked with P/N 55 film and printed the images up to 5 ft. and painted them. I spent years balancing exhibiting in major street festivals all across Florida with teaching photography and offering workshops at area high schools, art centers and museums.
Which photographers and other artists’ work do you admire?
I am in awe of a wide variety of photographers from Sally Mann to Joel Peter-‐Witkin. Lately, I have been captivated by the work of French photographers Laurent Millet and Jean-‐Michel Fauquet.
Would you share with us an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
André Kertész’s image, “Mondrian’s Glasses and Pipe” – so much said with very little. The use of simple round geometric forms of the glasses, dish and pipe on the pure angular white background produces an inviting narrative of intrigue for me.
Please tell us about your process and what the perfect day for you.
The past three years, I’ve been working with the bromoil process, popular among pictorialists and used by photographers during the first half of the 20th century. Most of my images are created using digital negatives. One of the things I love most is creating surreal and darkly romantic narratives. I am always scouting for photographic “elements” that I can utilize to develop stories. A perfect day for me usually involves scavenging for photo subject matter, visiting cemeteries in Charleston, S.C or driving through small towns (especially in Kentucky). All are high on my list in making a perfect day. However, I’m equally content spending the day in the darkroom, enjoying some alone time that printing photographs allows.
Is there one thing that you wish people would stop doing when it comes to the creative process or in the art world?
I would like to see the arts (visual, performing, you name it) become a valuable part of the everyday experience. Lets turn it around and integrate creativity in one’s daily process and decision-making, instead of finding ways of pushing it away and/or eliminating it all together. I’m just saying creative people need to trust their creative insight in everyday life . . . in business, at home, and in the studio.
What challenges do you face as an artist?
My greatest challenge is my shift in the direction and the process I use. Having made a change in recent years from producing large hand-‐painted, one-of-a-kind photographs, to my more intimate black & white bromoil images and this seems to have surprised my audience and collector base in terms of embracing my new direction. As a result, I find myself working on growing this new audience.
If you could spend a day with another photographer living or passed who would it be?
Throughout my years as an artist/curator, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and spending time with many wonderful photographers, such as: John Szarkowski, Evon Streetman, Liliana Porter, Herman Leonard and Dan Estabrook. So I love this question, but if I could step back in time, I would like the opportunity to have a day with Vivian Maier or Man Ray.
How do you view this time in the history of photography?
The field of photography is changing so quickly and is increasingly more accessible to a broader audience now. There is an interesting dynamic occurring with the growth of digital imagery on one end and a renaissance of historic processes on the other. For me, the ultimate test in time will be “what images are most meaningful and reflective of the photographer’s vision/hand.”
How do you over come a creative block?
I am very fortunate to have a studio in a separate building from my home. Just the act of going to the studio can quickly change my perspective and clear my mind. I can’t say that I have really had a creative block. I generally suffer from the opposite affect of having too many ideas swirling in my head and I can’t turnoff my mind.
What do you hope the viewer takes from your images?
My images are narratives composed of memories and chapters of my personal journey. My wish is that people are somehow moved by my images and/or able to create their own narrative from them.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
For me it is more about what is happening in the world or my daily life that affects my art. Many of my images are “darkly romantic” and reflective of difficulties overcome or strong, haunting memories.
Where can we see your work, and would you like to share any upcoming projects?
My work can be seen on my website at sextonlarson.com. I am presently working on a couple of ongoing photo projects: Ghost Stories (title pending) and a series of landscapes called the “Bone Yard” based on Hunting Island, S.C. Additionally I have been painting some small (gouache and watercolor) salt prints called “Roadside Postcards”.
Thank you Rebecca for sharing your work and words.