Michael Pointer is one of the 2018 Rfotofolio Selections.
Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a fourth generation artist. My father Ed Pointer, a painter with an extreme interest in photography introduced me to the camera when I was nine. I was in my first exhibit through the Scholastic Scholarship Arts Awards at fourteen. I have always had a strong need to communicate through my writing and have a BA in English. My poetry and that of others has been the seeding for my creative mulch. This background compost writhes silently in the background and I trust it to supply the creative input when I am making art.
I spent ten years on active duty and have lived many different places in the world. Ten years ago I lived in Afghanistan to support a free dental clinic in Kabul and teach dental technology to Afghans as well as treating imprisoned Afghan women and their children. While there I became involved with the Center for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan and continue working with them as a member of their advisory board.
I also taught photography at the Wichita State University School of Art and Design for three years. I learned so much from my students!
Why do you create?
It is impossible for me not to create. It is necessary for me to expand the possibilities of the spiritual whole of whatever environment I’m in.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
Obviously, my father and the many hours of watching him work with a big stack of modern jazz records playing in the background. We had many discussions as I grew up about what makes a good painting but not necessarily a good photograph and vice versa. Also my friend Albert Goldbarth, a poet. Albert likes to sit down to dinner and discuss the cosmos and all of it’s glorious mysteries. He guides my curiosity into dark corners and bright spaces, lacing it with the larger metaphors that can be gleaned from all of it.
Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Frank’s work as well as the many other artists who have sacrificed themselves to share their vision.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has stayed with you over time.
Werner Bischof’s Indian Famine struck me hard when I was young. I drew it over and over until I realized that part of the power of the image was the truth of the photograph. I drew this image many times over. I was fascinated by the faces and the need the image forced upon us. The tonal dynamics used in printing this photograph were essential to the transposition of this great famine into our safe American world. I continue to apply the dynamics of value I learned from this great work, both in photography and drawing.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
I had become disenchanted with the fussiness of contemporary analog photography- it had become more about equipment and tidy darkrooms producing obviously derivative subjects and styles. Subject matter was predictable at best. I knew that there was more to be had from silver gelatin. I combined my painting and drawing skills with photographic images that were developed by splash and experiment until it became a manageable process that I could pour my soul into.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
Every day fills me up with information which coalesces at night into images and words. The ideal is to find myself in that time fully energized rather than weary from a difficult day.
If you could spend a day with any other photographer or artist living or passed who would it be?
I think David LaChapelle would be great fun! Really though, a day in conversation with Robert Frank would be most excellent. Robert Rauschenberg or Robert Frank to be sure, both have had a profound effect on image content and possibilities thereof.
How important is the photographic community to you?
Community is everything! I exhibit in order to participate in extended conversations with other artists. This is the most difficult thing to accomplish without the full context of your work around you.
What equipment have you found essential in the making of your work?
My enlarger, an Omega 4×5. We’ve been down many roads together, it’s the same one I grew up with continue to use to this day.
Tell us about your series, Pasture Survey.
The Kansas prairie has imprinted on me a deep regard for wide skies and soft grass hills. I created these monotype gelatin silver prints with that sunshine blowing through my head, intent on the expansion of all I feel when I look out over the pastures of Kansas. I am also conscious of the prehistoric need to record the life around us as evidenced in the many cave paintings, an influence I cannot ignore.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
I want to experiment with chine-collé and liquid emulsion.
Whats on the horizon?
I just retired from my day job making complex cosmetic dental restorations, it’s exciting to have all of this free time. I will hopefully find a publisher for my book, Instagramica which is a diary of sorts that is an image created from the remains of my day and a short poem birthed from my creative distillation.
I am also preparing to make large scale silver gelatin prints of industrial plants at night.
Thank you Michael, to learn more about the work of Michael Pointer please visit his site at Michael Pointer.