Image by E. E. McCollum featured on cover of Southern Poetry Journal

MEG member E. E. McCollum's photograph Cocoon Series #154 is featured on the cover of the current issue (52:2) of Southern Poetry Review.  This is the second time one of McCollum's images has been on the cover of the journal.  Despite its regional name,  SPR is an international journal that publishes poets from all over the world and is read by an international audience. Images from McCollum's Cocoon Series were shown in a solo show at the Alexandria Art League earlier in the year.  See more images on his website:  www.eemccollum.com

Danny Conant / E. E. McCollum Exhibit Opens

Multiple Exposures Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit of new work by Danny Conant and E. E. McCollum. French Impressions  by Danny Conant and The Shadow Series by E. E. McCollum will be on display in the gallery from September 2 through October 12, 2014. Please come and join the artists for a reception on Sunday, September 7 from 2-4pm.


French Impressions Danny Conant

© Danny Conant

© Danny Conant

Although I love to photograph, I don’t take a lot of pictures. Maybe it’s the hunt or search for me.  I wander and look and if the scene won’t let me go I’ll bring that one back to think about later. Sometimes I use my iphone and then I can alter reality as I see it.

The title “French Impressions” came from an exhibition I recently saw at the Musee D’Orsay in Paris.  My French impressions came from Paris and the Dordogne area.  I found parts of scenes, a remembrance of something that has gone before or an embellishment of a pleasant experience.  There is a glimpse of someone who reminds me of a dear friend gone.  The Eiffel Tower embellished because it took me four trips to Paris to get the nerve to ride to the top.  Three chairs said it’s time to just sit and think.

The wall pieces are prints from my camera and from my iphone. Most images are manipulated in the camera or from computer programs and printed on Epson watercolor paper with archival inks.  Next I added a bit of pastel to the image and then glued it to a wooden panel.  Several coats of encaustic medium were added to finish it.  Encaustic medium is a combination of beeswax and resin. I love working with the wax. I like to touch it, smell it and know that it is an excellent protection of the printed photograph.

 

The Shadow Series - E. E. McCollum

© E. E. McCollum

© E. E. McCollum

For me, shooting the nude figure in the studio is like playing in a small jazz ensemble.  Just as a jazz quartet makes music from the voices of the instruments and the passage of time, the studio gives us space, light and the body with which to make images.  Obviously, other elements can be added, but in this project, I wanted to keep it simple, to play with the basic elements – a jazz trio instead of a big band. 

How do you combine the available elements?  Space: I shot the models from the top of a tall ladder.  This perspective obscures orientation . . . is the figure flying, floating, or pinned to the wall? And we see the body in ways we aren’t used to seeing it, foreshortened, dimensional one moment, and planar the next.   Light: I used a strobe with a bare bulb for this series, a harsh and, some might say, unforgiving light.  Of course, this gives us the distinct shadows of the series title but it also gives us the texture of the models’ skin and the rough surface of the studio floor both with all their flaws.  And the body:  Nude, the body becomes the medium for a range of expression . . . isolation, repose, exuberance, connection.  I asked the models to play with the notions of shadow and form as we worked and we quickly found that the shadows that emerged naturally from the light and the pose were much more interesting than any shadows we tried intentionally to create.

I have found working with these simple elements endlessly fascinating as I have made the images you see.  The studio is a magical place even when stripped to its basic elements.  But then, I was always a Dave Brubeck fan . . . 

E. E. McCollum on Southern Poetry Review

MEG member E. E. McCollum's photograph Cocoon Series #115 was featured on the cover of the current issue of Southern Poetry Review.  SPR is the second oldest poetry journal in the South and publishes writers from all over the world.  It has an international readership.  Images from McCollum's Cocoon Series were shown in a solo show at the Alexandria Art League earlier in the year.  See more images on his website:  www.eemccollum.com

©E. E. McCollum

©E. E. McCollum

 

The Vicissitudes of a Project

(c) E.E. McCollum

(c) E.E. McCollum

MEG member E.E. McCollumdescribes the evolution of a photographic series. 

For the past 3 years, I've been working on a project I call theCocoon Series.  The project started quite by accident when a model I was working with - Katlyn - showed me a tube of stretchy nylon material, six feet or so in length and sewn closed on one end.

"I think you'll like this," she said, and wriggled into it. 

Suddenly, the figure I saw in front of me was transformed.  The fabric stretched around Katlyn in such a way that the space of the body was made manifest and Katlyn's creative poses took on a sculptural quality.  I was hooked.  Ways to make images of the body in the cocoon kept coming to me long after that first session.
 

 

(c) E.E. McCollum

(c) E.E. McCollum

    As I explored photographing the whole figure, I began to wonder what it would be like to have two models in one cocoon.  Two adventurous models agreed to try.  The two figures together suggested relationship and contact as the figures wove together.  I also began to explore moving closer to the models and not including the entire figure.  My creative model/partners began to play with the concept of the two together producing images that are by turns beautiful, and odd and unsettling.  We struggle to orient ourselves as we look at them.


We also used fish line to pull the nylon up toward the ceiling, manipulating the space that the cocoon defines.  It seemed to work best when it followed the contours of the body.  Again, the models responded with such creativity to this new approach and, together with one, we created what has become the iconic image of the series.

 (c) E.E. McCollum

 (c) E.E. McCollum

With another model, I shot with a harsher light directed from a different angle.  The result was a more graphic sense of the body and some mystery as the body disappeared into the shadows. The project went on and on.  We stained the fabric with facial mud and body paint to accentuate texture. We tore it provide a sense of emergence.  I shot a male model and a male/female couple.  Each time I think it might be done, a new idea comes to me.  
 

 

 (c) E.E. McCollum

 (c) E.E. McCollum

This is the first sustained artistic project I've done and I've been reflecting on what I've learned from it.  First, I think a sustainable project needs to be based on something morethan just an idea.  I took a class once and a fellow photographer showed her project for critique. She had decided to do a sustained piece of work and cast around for an idea or theme, she said. What she showed, at least in my view, was somewhat lackluster, although the idea itself was intriguing.  I think it's because one can't set out to do a project. The project has to capture you. The cocoon came along unexpectedly and captured me emotionally right from the start and that seemed to enliven the work.  There must be something emotional in the mix if you are to live with a body of work as long as a project demands.

Secondly, I learned that things change.  The cocoon series started as individual images.  Early on, each image with interesting solely in its own right. The more it continued, however, the more I saw the images relating to one another with prior images providing context for the later ones.  It took time for it to became a project, in other words.  It developed organically.  I also have to remember that the earlier images are very familiar to me and have lost a little of their freshness because I have seen and worked with them so much.  But that isn't true of most viewers.  As I make a selection of the project for a publication or show, I try to include images from throughout the series.  The recent ones are of more interest to me because they represent my growing edge.  But you have to have faith in the strength of the work throughout.

Finally, I think you have to have the dedication to follow the project to its end while recognizing that it's hard to know when to stop.  So far, every time I think I've gotten to the end of the Cocoon Series, something new has occurred to me.  I don't know how long it will continue, or if the work will grow stale after a while.  Nevertheless, I remain committed to following it to wherever it needs to go.

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Images from The Cocoon Series will be on display at the Art League Gallery in the Torpedo Factory from March 13th through April 7th, 2014. Selections from the series can also be seen daily at Multiple Exposures Gallery in Studio 312 at the Torpedo Factory. 

E. E. McCollum can be reached at info@eemccollum.com