In April of this year we met Robin Dintiman. We are pleased to share her work and words with you here on Rfotofolio.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
My background: I am an American Diaspora; born and a toddler in Texas City, Texas, grew up living in Upper Westchester County, Central suburban New Jersey, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Deer Isle, Maine, Madison, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Ohio, Philadelphia, PA, Kyoto, Japan, New York City, Sedona, Arizona, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Rosa. My exposure to all these locales has heighten my search for place. Extensive hiking and swimming around all the Hawaiian Islands, hiking and camping in the California Sierras, Wyoming Tetons, Montana’s Rockies and Buttes, all the Canadian Rocky Range, New Mexico, Colorado and Mexico.
I shot with an Instamatic and Polaroid, then a Nikon FM Macro Lens which I still feel most comfortable. Have a complex relationship with my Nikon D 80, I shoot with my iPhone constantly using Lightroom and attachments.
I very recently purchased a well cared for Mamiya C330 at a very good friend’s prompting.
How did you come to photography?
I needed to record quickly through out my moving and traveling, I use jpegs, stacks of copied photos, contact sheets, old analog slides and negatives to hold onto my visual search.
Old Elliot Porter landscape journals brought landscapes to me, Stieglitz’s intimate intensity intimidated me, I just shot everything and every where I traveled. As I became closer to the medium, through the need to save forever some old instamatic images, gravure captured my attention. While a photograph, it became a gravure, which I could manually manipulate to engage more of my hand. It was a wedding of hand and photograph. It was still a search for place; emotional place, moments caught in light and dark which felt familiar.
The black and white format seemed to accentuate my interest in very dramatic cropping of the essence of a place, which I had a need to understand.
Why do you create?
I have needed to visualize my understanding of the world so I see who I am from the interaction. Often, I do not form words, but see images before I can say the words. Speaking seems an after thought and imprecise. Michael Pollen’s remarks, “we are all hallucinating all the time” resonates; we barely understand each other, but an image/photograph seems finite for moments. It is the most consistent medium, besides writing, which I do daily.
Who or what has had an influence on your creative process?
My Mother was an excellent fashion illustrator, designer and painter. I devoured her art books with huge colored plates(gravures and lithos). I tried to draw as she did but I found my interest wane.The reality of being in the woods where I could collect things, make tree forts, cut trails through the woods, take pictures and manipulate them seemed closer to reality. Several art teachers one in elementary and two in High School saw my commitment. Colleagues at CCA, Chris Johnson and Dennis Leon were most supportive. Chris whom I have known for about 40 years, knew my challenges so has been very supportive.
A show at the Walker Art Center curated by Gary Garrels, 1992, “Photography in Contemporary German Art”, I would say blew my circuits. Photography, sculpture, intense political, as well as, personal history were far more evocative than much of the American made.
The experience of tremendous losses which involved years of care taking on an underpinning of very complex misinformation, (commonly called being raised in dysfunction with the disassociation which was necessary to survive) as well as an incurable cancer,(which I am surviving) I am driven to create a present which is coherent and truthful. Keats’s “Truth is Beauty and Beauty Truth…” Truth of the moment being most necessary; the truth changes with awareness.
What image of yours would you say taught you an important lesson?
Natural wasp nest on my brother’s property in Damascus, Ohio.This is a gravure of the older photograph.The simple wasp (hornet or bee) nest became a motivating image for larger sculpture.
The insect’s use of the available intersection of branches and vines for structure creating a conviant, tightly secured, irregular and visually completing example of nature’s ingenuity. It was a complexity which resonated for three dimensional structural building.
And how is does it coexist with your sculpture?
The relationship between the Jpeg and the sculpture is an avenue of possibilities, so many ideas provoked by a photograph, “wordless impulse to form”, is the best I can describe it. There is an exchange of energy emotionally between objects, which interest me to form dimensionally into sculpture then back into a photograph once it, is made. It concatenates an impulse to create which is, despite being in reality; it grows the reality to encompass transience, impermance and transformation.
Do you remember the first piece of art that made a lasting impression on you?
There were two that made a lasting impression:
The series of Monet’s “Haystacks” at the Metropolitan in 1960 and the “Pieta” at the Worlds Fair, 1964 both which I saw when I was quite young. The “Pieta” was the most beautiful thing I ever saw, the nuns in front of me on the rotating walkway were crying; I could not understand why. Monet’s Haystack series which depicted change over time were both representational, illusory and with a numinous quality which fascinated me.
Do you find that you are inspired by literature or music?
Yes, both. I always listen to music very loud with ear plugs when I work. Not often when I am shooting I read poetry, aesthetics, philosophy, science and neuroscience, Buddhist teachings and lives of artists.
Some of my books are broken at the bindings, taped and travel with me for reading at night. John Dewey, Gaston Bachelard, Susan Sontag,
Music which inspires me: Bach, Tchaikovsky, jazz greats like Charlie Parker, I have 6 CD’s of Amazing Grace from many diverse artists,Tibetan Monks Chanting, Annie Lenox.
What makes a good day for you creatively speaking?
Shooting outside, capturing the mood of the weather, writing in my journal. Progressing on multiple projects. I was advised to only work on one piece at a time, but I find this impossible. Multiple ideas arise so I shoot it, build it, or draw/collage it.
What have you found is essential in the making of your work?
The work lets me find my emotional vulnerability, something about transience, impermanence, transformation. A question is left in the open to ponder. The grace of this space is so complex and non verbal that it is only months after I complete it that I see what I have experienced.
Is the art community important to you?
Yes, but this is complex as I have had very uniques experiences which have isolated me. Many years of caretaking for family members followed by losses.
Where my studios are located, as well as. where I teach, there are art communities, I am driven by the need to connect. I am a board member, volunteer, and supporter of a number of non-profit communities.
Whats on the horizon?
Most immediately, use my new (used) two lens camera and my new (first non-rented) darkroom; I am very interested in alternative processes. Perhaps what I am able to reveal which has been elusive, the complexity of relationship to parts of myself. I hope to combine the structure of staged sculpture, my self as object with a new camera.
A few proposals, “Born to the Earth”, a combination of photo/sculpture and video with movement. Two curatorial proposals for Extraction: “Art at the Edge of the Abyss” for 2021.
I have some applications for some residencies. Keeping care of my family.
Art can make a difference, and it saved my life.
Thank you Robin.
To learn more about the work of Robin Dintiman please visit her site at Robin Dintiman.