Still life photographs are rarely spontaneous. They take forethought and planning, as well as perfect lighting. But for Juror's Choice winner Andrew Thomas Lopez, many of his still life images are delightfully stumbled upon as his son’s creativity blossoms into vignettes around the house.
Juror's Choice Award: After Doug
I create Still Life images in a variety of ways. Sometimes there is complete control, as in the Pyramid Triptych, where I placed a laundry basket in the light near a window and my son began creating different versions of his Lego pyramid. However, in other instances, such as in Ascension and After Doug, I captured my son creating things that made sense to him. I controlled setup of the camera and waited for the right lighting. I believe Still Lifes can be found and spontaneous, controlled through the camera, just as much as they can be completely controlled and set up for the benefit of camera.
As is evident in the Juror’s Choice Award image, After Doug, he draws quite a bit of inspiration from his son. The photograph is part of a larger series titled This Means Something… This is Important. “The series began as my direct reaction to my son’s diagnosis of autism and my attempts at trying to understand how he expresses himself through his interaction with toys and objects around him.” Being a parent and communicating with your child is challenging enough. For Lopez, his son Sebastian’s diagnosis felt like a huge barrier. As the series grew larger, the creation of these still lifes began to feel like teamwork and an avenue to understanding Sebastian, or Sabas for short. “Each image is like a performance – my son constructs the environment and I make the images. Our intentions are different, but the reasons for doing it are aligned, which is why I consider this series to be a collaborative effort.”
Lopez draws inspiration from many different places and a large number of artists though nowadays his influences seem to have a common thread: subject matter, namely family or the exploration of parent/child relationships. In the end, his largest influence is clear.
The greatest influence, of course, is Sabas. Through the process of creating this project over time, I have seen my son grow into an increasingly interesting character. In the beginning, he started making things out of toys, just for pure enjoyment of play and comfort; but now when I set up the camera, I can see the light bulbs switching on, and his excitement is incredibly gratifying.
As an artist, Lopez has many definitions of success. One kind of success is having his career be lucrative enough to feed and clothe his family, while another type is having an influence on the art world and making a lasting impression. The most important kind of success to Lopez, however, is the ability and drive to share his passion and knowledge of art with others.
I always despised the phrase, “Those who cannot do, teach.” That rhetoric insults both the purpose and meaning of art and academia. I believe that those who can do should always teach, whether through lectures, gallery exhibits, professorships, public or private schools – and helping others learn to appreciate and create art is a significant indicator of success to me as an artist and an educator.
Blocks are People Too
Still Life: The Art of Arrangement is on view through October 27, 2012.