When one is so aware that everything we love and surrounds us is obsolete, it emerges that need of the soul to capture it, as the only way to make it eternal. This is what happens to Grace, who in addition to showing an overwhelming sensitivity in her photographic series, plays with textual to complement her work as well as to understand her thoughts and feelings.
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It was such a great surprise to find out that your series were accompanied by artist statements. Also, in Pray for Me words are present in the pictures itself. It seems a very successful tandem to combine textual and visual fields, as not everyone has the virtue and the sensitivity to convey in both media. Are they complementary? Can your photographic series be understood without the explanations?
I’m constantly verbalizing what I’m thinking and feeling, so combining the two mediums – textual and visual – makes sense with this series. And while photography is so close to me, and something that I cling to for survival at times, I need words just as much, if not more. Pray for Me is a form of meditation for me. From making the images, to scribbling on a piece of paper at 4am and scanning it in the next morning, to writing the artist statement. In this instance, the process means more than the outcome. And I think this series could make sense without the scanned writings, but it would make sense in a different way.
Your work is mainly based in the portraiture and the documentary categories. Regarding portraits, who are the people who appear in them?
They’re mostly people whom I care for deeply. I’m so in love with everyone I get close to, and I feel this need to memorialize them to the point where it’s exhausting at times. However, it’s a form of exhaustion that I don’t mind and even thrive on. There is this wonderful paradox that surrounds photography: memorialization tangoing with the ephemeral. The fleeting nature of it all is so startling to me, so terrifying, and yet I still think I can defy it by capturing and keeping anything I feel drawn to, connected to. I often lose sleep over this thought. Even so, the less I sleep because I’m making art, the more intoxicated I become with existing.
The viewer gets trapped in your most intimate and personal universe. What do the terms ´love’ and ‘nostalgia’ mean in your work?
Those two words, while overused and misused, have a presence in my work that is undeniable. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, really. I’m sentimental to no end, and I run with it. With my imagery, there is this parameter of falling in love while also lamenting. “How can one do both?” I sometimes wonder, but then I realize that it’s easy. So easy. We’re constantly doing both. The fear of losing the one you love is just that. My work, while celebratory, is adoration swirled into fear. It’s reverence. I want to lean into those reverent moments forever. But obviously that’s just a pleasant thought, because it’s not possible to live in this earthly body indefinitely. I can’t even comprehend ‘forever’, yet I like to think that I can. So it’s really just a mindset, wanting and wishing to be slanted toward these moments for an eternity.
While in the works of some photographers everything seems perfectly planned and timed; yours give the impression that you follow your instinct to capture moments that catch your attention. Am I wrong? How is the previous process of taking the photos?
My photographs are seldom premeditated, and the ones that were look terrible! I photograph to document how I’m feeling toward someone or something. And emotions are so transitory, so my image-making must be, too. A lot of my photographs come about from a place of longing or wonderment (sometimes both). It’s really just me quietly trying to get someone to be how they are in that instant in a permanent way, to place them where everything feels anchored and affectionate.
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Many photographers confess that they do not particularly like post-processing of images. Do you retouch yours?
I color correct, spot, and dodge and burn. But I also don’t think that further manipulation (more extreme forms of dodging and burning, altering colors, etc.) is a shameful, hush-hush thing. Look at Ansel Adams, Man Ray, and Irving Penn! They used post-processing to convey an emotion – to strengthen a narrative – within the image. Sometimes the way our mind sees an image is different than reality. Sometimes I want the viewer to experience what I experienced, both visually and psychologically.
What technical equipment do you work with?
I’ve always got my hand on (quite literally) a myriad of cameras. My Hasselblad 500c has been my most loyal camera. I have made a lot of portraits and series with it. I also shoot with a Mamiya 645, which was the first medium format camera I ever bought.
In Imbued you re-explore the banal relationship between women and nature. As a female artist, is it a way to get empowered and change these notions?
 Oh, indubitably. I’m constantly finding holes in social norms and constraints, attempting to challenge them through a healthy conversation. Never without some humor, though. I’m a bit of a cheeky person, and the way I cope with frustration is often by poking fun of a situation. The way that women have been contextualized with nature, albeit poetic at times, is laughable and outlandish to me. We romanticize women – I’m not talking about women as individuals; rather, the idea of women. We often make them more graceful and sexy than is humanly possible. And of course that persona can be flipped, too, but I’m not talking about that right now. I’m talking about this. When men talk down to me, like I’m this flowery thing with merely a face and a body, like they’re trying to take away my power, I can’t help but laugh. And sometimes that honestly isn’t a conscious act, to try to take away a woman’s power and romanticize her. Either way, I don’t want to be romanticized; I don’t want to be placed in a box, one where I am given a role in society. However, I also know that I can’t control these things.
What do you think of the current situation of photography, which coexists with the constant stream of social networks? Does photography lose value when we have so much access to it? Or is this democratization healthy?
I love it and loathe it all at once. The inferior side of me wants photography to be solely mine, some tool of documentation and expression that I found all by myself. But my communal side savors this act of rapid image-sharing, where everyone is showing everyone how they view the world. And I don’t think that mass-access takes away value, it just means that we perhaps need to be more intentional over what we share. After all, what you contribute to culture will eventually flow into Earth, so make sure it’s good.
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