Greg Martin was a 2022 Rfotofolio selection for Work of Merit. We are pleased to share his work on Rfotofolio.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
I am a Cleveland based artist who, for the past 15+ years has been exploring the historic photographic medium of wet plate collodion as the primary tool in my creative practice. Although photo processes have increasingly made their way into my work, I consider myself primarily a sculptor, and consider all my works as sculptures.
I am a 1989 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. I have for the past 20 years exhibited in numerous solo, duo and group exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at Fabrica de Arte Cubano in Havana, Cuba and the Massillon Museum in Massillon, Ohio.
I have twice been the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, most recently in January of 2023 as well as other grants throughout the years.
My work is housed in a wide variety of private collections including University Hospitals and the Fred and Laura Bidwell Collection.
Who has had an influence on your creative process?
The most influential individual is Ricchard Fiorelli, a former professor, whom I also had the honor of teaching alongside twenty years after having him as a teacher. The term “genius” is tossed around far to liberally these days, but Richard is someone who I would truly say embodies this label. No one has taught me to “think” more than Richard has. He also introduced me to the concept of “Creative Play” as an important exploration tool.
Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has inspired you.
Julia Margaret Cameron portrait titled “Julia Jackson”. There is such raw power, immediacy, connection, and a modernity to this photograph that 150+ years after it was taken it still has such relevance and impact..
Is there an image that you wish you would have taken and can you still see it?
Yes, there are many. One was (would have been?) a portrait of my then wife as she sat on the floor of our old laundry room, sobbing, amongst piles of old clothes. It was a bright sunny day outside and the light streamed in from a window just over her head through the slatted blinds (and the blouse drying that was hung on the curtain rod). This image haunts me to this day.
What part of image-making do you find the most rewarding?
When I get the image that I can’t stop looking at. Whether it’s immediate, or many months/years later when I revisit old images and new life is brought to them by layering or juxtaposing images. There are always those elusive images that demand attention. I seek these out.
Please tell us about your process and the work you submitted to the Rfotofolio Call.
The work I have submitted here is completely new (and wildly different in some ways) than most of my work for the past decade. This work came out of some “creative play” and out of a time when I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to do my collodion or daguerreotype work.
“Memento Mori” is a series related to my coming to terms with the loss of my long term marriage. I was in the midst of the collapse of my marriage, and was disentangling from someone I had been married to for 30 years and been friends with for 40 years. On top of this I had moved out of my home of 20 years, out of my studio space, and into a completely new and foreign environment for me (physically, emotionally, psychologically).
During this time of intensive change and lack of grounding I began to make work using my iphone and simple images I had been taking as I spent long hours walking and hiking.
I have always been fascinated with the mis-use of tools (in this case a simple iphone app), I used this app in a very unconventional way and exploited outputs that were unintended.
The raw beauty in these spoke to me deeply about loss and death as well as growth and exploration. They referenced the past and the future. They had this duality that could be seen as disintegration or coalescence.
What tools have you found essential in the making of your work?
I do not feel any physical tools are essential to be honest. The most important tools are creativity and your eyes, being open to the new, and being unafraid to explore and say “what if?”.
Of course, the collodion and daguerreotype processes are very tool and chemistry dependent. But I have also made very satisfying (and powerful in my opinion) work while hiking, just with what I discover while out.
What do you do when nothing seems to work?
I leave it be and walk away. Sometimes something I consider “unsuccessful” will speak to me months, even years later. I’ll see it in new light, or in the context of something else, and it will all of a sudden “work” when previously it hadn’t.
Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?
There are experiences I’d like. Travelling and shooting over an extended time (Japan being #1 on the bucket-list). Taking an extended residency to work and focus on a specific project. Working more with multimedia, adding sound and video and other components to a piece…in short an installation piece.
How does your art affect the way you see the world?
It is how I see the world. Period.
What’s on the horizon?
Several group shows coming up, as well as a major project I am kicking off this summer, working back with collodion and daguerreotype.
To learn more about the work of Greg Martin please visit his site by clicking on his name.