Nadine Boughton was one of the photographers whose work was selected in the2018 Rfotofolio Selections.
We are please to share her work and words.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Rochester, New York in the heyday of Eastman Kodak Company. My father worked there which allowed him to bring home cameras and lots of free film with development. As a girl I made sets and coerced my sister into posing, trying to replicate advertisements.
In the 1970’s it was all about street photography for me. Later I moved toward collage using mixed media. For the past fifteen years I’ve worked digitally, using vintage materials, mostly magazines.
The subject of my work has been and is mid-century America, it’s politics, psychology and polarities. I’m drawn to this period because it’s my personal history, where my sense of self was molded. Collage for me is a way to juxtapose images from then and now to create new narratives.
I’ve always been interested in the creative process and how different forms of expression feed each other. I’m a published writer, explore movement and have worked with performance art. My Master’s degree in Expressive Therapy was a study of these creative connections. I live on Cape Ann in Gloucester, MA, an hour north of Boston. I teach workshops and have a private practice coaching people on “creativity in art and life.”
Where did you get your photographic training?
Early on it was my father. He was primarily a fine art painter but also had a keen interest in photography and built my first darkroom when I was a young girl. Formal study began at Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester. In the 1970’s I briefly studied with Garry Winogrand to whom I owe much. I studied digital photography and took many courses at Lesley College Seminars in Cambridge, MA.
Why do you create?
I love the mystery of the process. Whether image, writing or movement, there’s a dialogue with the unconscious that deeply satisfies. I love the camera frame and in my early years with photography I was enthralled with the street genre where I’d walk miles with my Leica grabbing snippets of life. Working entirely with collage now it’s the story teller in me that finds building new narratives so transformative.
Who has had an influence on my creative process?
Early on the “street photographers,” Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus. Stephen Shore and the “new topographics.” All Pop Art, especially Richard Hamilton, Martha Rosler. The Pictures Generation photographers, Sarah Charlesworth. Collage artists John O’Reilly, John Stezaker.
An image that has stayed with me over time?
My eyes linger over all the differences between the twins; the same but different.The negative space, those collars! The tension between form and content which, in this case, are in perfect balance.
What image of yours taught you an important lesson?
The very first image I made, “Evening News,” in what later became the True Adventures in Better Homes series taught me alot. I walked around with images from men’s adventure magazines for two years trying to talk myself out of working with them.They were loud, bloody. And I thought outrageously funny. A few people I showed them to could not understand why an old feminist like me could be drawn to such violence.
In April 2011 I attended the Photolucida portfolio reviews. The response I got was overwhelmingly positive. Crowds of people were drawn to the work. Later the work went viral with interest from all over the globe.
I learned to persist and follow my own urge to express something that I wasn’t even quite sure of. I kept a narrow focus, set limits on the materials, mined deeply and showed almost no one. This has guided me ever since. I learned it usually takes me about two years to fully commit to a project and it’s a good sign if I’m scared. And once I have my teeth in it I just keep drilling downward.
What makes a good day for you, creatively speaking?
Waking refreshed and with some dreams to reflect on give a good start to the day. I’d do a little writing with breakfast on the porch overlooking the woods. Best time for me in the studio is morning. I love the pristine silence here and work until around 1pm.
I enjoy lunch and conversation with my husband who’s also been creating all morning. Afternoon involves some movement in nature, often with friends – quarry swimming, walks, beekeeping, gardening. I like to cook and dinner is important to me. I like things pretty simple. Evening is reading or connecting with friends in this large artist community filled with openings, readings and dance.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer…
Sarah Charlesworth, from the Pictures Generation.
How important is the photographic community to you?
Very important. I first went to Photolucida’s portfolio review in 2011 and some of the friends I made and contacts are still with me. Social media is so helpful for connections and support. Much has come my way through exposure on Critical Mass. And Boston has a vibrant photographic community that I’ve been part of since the 1970’s. I’m so grateful for places like the Griffin Museum and the PRC.
What equipment have you found helpful in making your work?
An Epson scanner, 3880 Epson printer, and Photoshop have been essential for digital work. I’m not using cameras at present but have used a Canon digital SLR and a Lumix. My archives of collected vintage and vernacular materials are a kind of equipment I couldn’t do without.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I’m interested in moving beyond the 2D format, working sculpturally and making installations. I have a few pieces that excite me, collaged from vintage book covers with other objects extending beyond the frame.
What’s on the horizon?
I’m taking a break from digital work and making hand-cut collages with good old- fashioned scissors and glue. It’s quite a learning curve working with what’s given. I’m using vintage children’s books, newspaper photographs and other materials. I’m planning an installation for an upcoming show that involves standing paper dolls and photographs.
Thank you Nadine, to learn more about the work of Nadine Boughton please visit her site at, Nadine Boughton.