Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creatures Winners: Joshua Meier

Even as a young child, Director’s Choice winner Joshua Meier knew he would be an artist. “I was interested in the arts and knew that I would eventually end up in some creative field. Early on I dabbled in music, theatre, painting, and pretty much all of it.” After his second year at Roger State University, Meier attended Rocky Mountain School of Photography and was eventually inspired to put his collegiate studies on hold to pursue photography full time. He took every opportunity to learn and grow in his craft. “Probably the biggest shift in what I was doing at that time came when I had the opportunity to work with Raymond Meeks at his studio in rural Montana. Raymond probably has no idea how much my year with him changed my outlook on my art.”

Director's Choice image Neither Here Nor There

Meier’s winning image, Neither Here Nor There, is part of his larger series All Things Passing, which explores the theme of death through preserved specimens. “Death and the passing of life have always been recurring themes for artists and especially for the medium of photography, which is, in itself, a form of preservation. For me this is an important aspect, conceptually, for the work.” Choosing to work in wet plate collodion for its unique visual capabilities, Meier then scans the work and prints it in silver gelatin. “I’m sure the wet-plate purists are probably out there cursing my name, but I tend to love how the big, silver gelatin prints showcase the detail, clarity, and resolution that the collodion is capable of.” He was also concerned that the sense of intimacy would be lost in a smaller print as his enlarged images showcase fascinating details that otherwise might have been easily overlooked.

Bleached from All Things Passing

Lower Jaw from All Things Passing

Meier began working on The Parables over a decade ago as a way to challenge himself both creatively and technically. Each image is a constructed scene which requires careful planning. Before he takes out his camera, Meier must sketch each image, construct sets pieces or props, and the find just the right location. “The genesis for each image tends to come from a variety of places. Sometimes I work from a basic human condition like ‘struggle’ or ‘futility’. Sometimes the object I make comes first and the image builds itself slowly around that thing.” Meier strives to hit a balance of complexity and ambiguity in these images in order for the viewer to interpret them in a way that has personal meaning. “That’s the way a parable works, right? You tell a story so universally common that it meets the listener/viewer right where they are, right where it’s most needed.”

Failed Attempt 2 from The Parables

Deed and Desire from The Parables

In the end, Meier’s true inspiration is the creative process itself.

I believe the word ‘success’ speaks too much to the end result—a common qualifier we give an experience or a thing when it’s over. For me, success is felt in the midst of the creative process.  If I can remain engaged, excited, challenged, and fraught with uncertainty throughout my exploration, then the final product will take care of itself.  The moment I become too sure of myself or begin to have all the answers, that is when I know I’m headed down the wrong path.

All Things Passing

Creatures is on view through March 23, 2013.

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