Yanninia Marie | Issue Ten Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work.

It started with curiosity, and that curiosity manifested itself into a love affair of sorts. I was 16 and found myself stumbling into a photojournalism class, and I found myself for the first time being able to communicate beyond words. I have been stumbling through wave after wave of curiosity ever since. That curiosity led me to pursue a Bachelors degree in photography and finding myself in a history of photography class with a professor who despite his hard demeanor and rough edges introduced me to the world of alternative process, more specifically cyanotype: one of the earliest photographic processes. Curiosity demanded that I try to find a way to turn a simple process that only yields silhouettes with stark whites and dark blues into a process which could then render a full tonal range, and so the love affair began. My work is as much about my curiosity as it is about photography.

What are the main themes in your artwork?

I find that I am drawn to nature like a moth to a flame. I crave the undemanding solace of the trees, the warm sunlight on my skin, and the feel of the untamed earth beneath my feet. There is a strangeness to the woods, but it’s the only place I’ve ever truly felt at home.

What art do you most identify with? Any specific influences or research areas?

Truthfully, my appetite for art is a vast as my appetite for literature or history. I am drawn to the early works of 18th century pictorialists such Julie Margaret Cameron, and even the more modern works of artists such as Brooke Shaden and Jennifer B. Thoreson. Some of my work even pulls form early philosophers such as Emerson and Thoreau. Many of cyanotypes are an homage to one of my personal heroes, Anna Atkins, a biologist who was the first woman to use this process & arguably one of the first female photographers. I am nothing if not a student of history, and honestly I could spend hours trapped in a library studying not only the history of photography but the minds of the greats.

What is your working process?

Creating cyanotype prints is very much an intuitive process. I let my curiosity guide me; sometimes I get lucky and in the stillness of the woods I disappear only to stumble onto something beautiful and unique. I believe that as an artist my greatest strength is in my ability to listen to what the world around me is saying, and not just with my ears, for ears can often be misleading. Words that are spoken are illusions; I listen with my eyes to the way something moves, the meaning behind a smile, or even just to subtle changes of the wind. Some days I wander the woods endlessly, never finding anything that moves, and some days it’s like walking into a dragon’s lair filled to the brim with hoarded treasures. I live for those days; it is on those days that I quietly and respectfully borrow just a handful of things, and later when I am alone in my darkroom I allow myself to preserve them and create something wonderful.

Is there something you couldn't live without in your studio? What is your most essential tool?

My mind and my creativity are tools that cannot be replaced. Sure, I need a camera and film, or a memory card if I am shooting digital, but those are just things. In the end, if you lack the understanding, knowledge and creative mind to use them, they are just objects; they are just tools.

I think it is a tragedy that has befallen our world; when we look at an artist, we judge them by the tools they use. As a photographer I am often scorned and looked down upon for pulling out an old broken camera. Yet, it’s not the camera that creates the magic, that frame the final piece; I do, and before I even use a tool I have examined every inch and gone over every possibility in the confines of my own my mind. Only then can I use the tools in my hands to create.

How do you think photography was born? It started with an idea and a creative mind. Without them, photographers would not exist.

What do you feel the role of artists and photographers is in society?

To listen, and to create that which is missing or needed. Photography and art has this magic that has the ability to transcend words and evoke emotions and meaning. It can spark great controversy and inspire change. That’s our purpose: we are the hand that gives way to the movements of change. As powerful as words and scientists are, facts, statistics and numbers don’t inspire change. As artists, we are the change-bringers, and the lights in the darkness. It is not enough to create beautiful imagery; without meaning, without purpose, art is nothing more than a decoration. We must strive to shine light where so few have tread, to bring light to pain and suffering in the hopes that by showing that pain we can inspire others to take action and move mountains. My work is a small drop in the bucket, a reminder of the beauty of the natural world, a reminder that imperfect things are treasures, a reminder that there is more to life than meets the eye; the world is bigger than us.

Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects in the works?

My last exhibition ended in December of 2019 and at present I have no upcoming showcases. However, I have several ideas in the early stages of development and I hope to be able to start working on them shortly.


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