Paloma Mayorga gets the credit for introducing me to Vera. We work together at the Serie Project and after I photographed Paloma in her studio she invited me to this life drawing session. Her studio panorama will also be a part of the Davis group show and her interview will be posted next week.
What I like about this scene the most, and what I wanted to convey, was the contrast between the artists sitting below the model, staring intently from the darkness as they captured her form on paper, and her isolation in the spot light, twisting into different poses. This might not seem similar to my other images with multiple instances of the same person, but if you look closely you can see that there are two distinct versions of her present. The print by Agave Print has really rich blacks and a nice even tone. Thanks again to Peter Williams for making all of the prints for my show. It was really nice working with him.
The panorama I created of Vera will be exhibited in a group show at Davis Gallery here in Austin from September 6th until October 18th. This interview is part of a series getting to know the subjects of those images.
SDG: What do you like about modeling and how did you get into it?
VC: I began modeling cos I wanted an additional creative outlet, something that forced me to interact with people. I was taking a year away from university. I had no idea what I wanted to study and became deeply frustrated with my life, so I left school, got a part time job at Starbucks and began to work on projects.
SDG: Is being photographed, nude or seminude, much different from standing in front of a life drawing class?
VC: The only difference I find in being photographed versus standing for a life drawing is that standing takes much more endurance. I have to not crawl inside my head and sometimes it happens. Perhaps I think I am breathing too strongly or daydream of the possibilities of me tumbling over. When I am being photographed, I am able to be more fluid in my movements and there isn’t the pressure of interrupting someone's drawing.
SDG: That's very considerate of you. Have you always been so comfortable with nudity?
VC: Yes. I was raised by a mother who taught me to never be ashamed of my body; everyone has one.
SDG: How fortunate that you had that kind of grounding growing up. Seems like it is more likely these days to get messages about being perfect and weight and attaining some ideal for others benefit. With respect to modeling is there a fine line between empowerment and objectification with nude modeling or is it something else altogether?
VC: I think the line should be determined by the model. I’ve never put myself in a position where I didn’t believe I had full control of the situation. I can’t help how people view what I create. Whether people want to objectify me is entirely up to them and does not affect my ideology of self-empowerment.
SDG: I'm glad to hear that. Reminds me of the idea of never taking anything personally because everyone's perception of the world is unique to them and has nothing to do with who we know ourselves to be. Our society does idealize youth and beauty though. Do you see that as a problem or a good thing?
VC: Society idealizes youth and beauty cos we allow for it to. Ultimately, consumers are in control of what the media chooses to exhibit as a fad. There is beauty in youth, there is beauty in age, and there is beauty in honest vulnerability. It’s only an issue if we accept youth and beauty as truth.
SDG: You are also a writer and are going to school. Tell me about that?
VC: I’ve been writing since I was kid. I wrote most days of my childhood and I write most days presently. Even if it’s just one sentence, I make it a point to reflect and respond to my surroundings. I am a full time student who attends Southwestern University, I commute from Austin four days a week. I study both Spanish and Communication Studies. I work three jobs. I’m a receptionist at a spa, a host at a restaurant, and an events manager at a theatre, and I love all of them.
SDG: That sounds like an incredibly busy schedule but it appears that you are enjoying life and have come back from your break with a good idea of what you want to do. Thanks for sharing something that you wrote. I also try to write everyday and I think it is a great way to get things out of your head and the doing of it counteracts the relentless critic for me. It also helps me find clarity, insight, ideas, and the truth of where and who I am. Even writing "I don't know what to write" over and over will lead to something.
SDG: You have worked with Jane Radstrom quite a bit. What was that like?
VC: Working with Jane was organic and warm. I always felt like she just trusted me. She let me be silly and light or sultry and strong and that is incredibly empowering. I’ve developed so much since the first day we met and enjoy seeing the dichotomy of our first portraits together versus the ones she is currently working on.
SDG: Jane is great to work with. She is one of the first artists that I photographed in their studio. Well I am very glad to hear how empowering modeling can be and I do think you are very good at it and suspect with your determination you will be able to do whatever you put your intentions towards. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions and all the best to you! Here is a link to Vera's website.