Artist Spotlight: Maryanne Braine by Hannah Harley

Dissecting vulnerability through visual language is a complicated task, but it's one that artist Maryanne Braine tackles head on. Using process-based work, she explores the materiality of the photographic image. She's also constantly examining feminism, memory and the snapshot, and identity through her artistic practice.

The manipulation of the image, whether through traditional darkroom settings, digital alteration, or the physical print, is a constant source of inspiration for Braine. "The straight image is usually just the source material for the finished piece for me," she said in an interview last month, "I’ll often look at an image that I’ve taken and ask myself, 'what else can I do to this piece to really make it complete?' And often that involves adding a tactile or material experience." Braine's obsessive exploration is pushing her photographs into dynamic places. Abstracting the viewer's gaze through traditional photographic mediums is where Braine was first ignited by a passion for photography. 

In high school, Braine hated most of her classes and was desperately searching for something to excite her in her education. She discovered the darkroom during her sophomore year and was instantly hooked. "I finally had found a way to communicate what I never could fully express with words," she said of her discovery. Her enthusiasm for the darkroom continued through to her undergraduate university, Earlham College, where she was given the freedom to explore photographic methods independently. 

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Braine continues to busy herself at Parsons' black and white darkroom. Typically starting with specific ideas and alternative mediums, Braine lets her intuition guide her in the beginning stages of a project. Following her gut and letting the idea grow is an integral part of Braine's artistic process. While she searches for ways to communicate a wide variety of themes, she begins her artistic experimentation, which she joyfully describes as 'play.' 

Even though her work thrives through experimentation, Braine says she struggles with her habit of setting strict parameters for her and her work. "It's better not to be in control of everything I'm working on... Sometimes the most wonderful discoveries happen when you let go of that control and let your work simply be," she said. Certainly, this liberation of her parameters has let her most recent work explode in dynamic ways. 

This body of work, as pictured here in her studio, began with Braine questioning her relationship to conventional femininity and quickly evolved into a greater exploration on vulnerability. Using images of her body and skin, the photographs are morphic self explorations. Locating oneself and one's body in the world is a visual thread that holds together much of the work. The papers and processes that Braine uses allows her to peel away parts of the images and add layers, selectively exposing parts of the original image.

These photographic objects can still be classified as 'photographs', but labeling them isn't an important part for Braine. Looking to photographers like Mariah Robertson, Brittany Nelson, and Eileen Quinlan, Braine's research is informed by the disruption of what a 'conventional photograph' should be. 

Artist Spotlight: Lindsay Aline Hill by Hannah Harley

After relocating from rural East Texas to Brooklyn, NY, Lindsay Aline Hill grew weary of New York's never-ending cityscapes. After six months as a new New Yorker, she grew restless. Eager to find a landscape around the city that didn't appear "city-like", Hill began researching towns on the city's outskirts. 

Her research lead her to an oddity - a nearly vacated neighborhood just an hour away from Manhattan. Oakwood Beach, once a thriving town situated a comfortable distance away from the city center, now resembles a ghost town. Due in large part to Hurricane Sandy and the government's subsequental buy out of the destroyed homes and lots, the town is almost barren. 

But in the midst of this desolate landscape, there are residents who remained, refusing to give up their homes. These last residences exist beside demolition remnants, often with nature creeping through the cracks. 

Hill's photographs paint an eerie picture - one where geese and cats are abundant, roaming on well paved roads and through idyllic scenes. Where manicured hedges are forgotten, and lawn ornaments are as common as memorials. It's an odd environment, and through her weekly documentation, Hill brings us its evolution. 

"Walking through the town is a very meditative practice," Hill said in an interview last week. "I've watched houses come down, watched people move away. I think watching the wetlands start to grow and take over is quite poetic."  

The interest in capturing small towns in America stems from her east Texas childhood. When surrounded by small towns, Hill is comforted by the familiar dynamics. Hill considers Oakwood Beach to be an extension of that nostalgic feeling.

She only ventures there alone, cherishing the solitude of the hour commute. About once a week, despite the demands of work and graduate school, Hill visits the community with her medium format camera in tow. "Dreamy film for a dreamy place," she says, explaining her choice for film photography. 

Hill's straight photography style is a method of documentation that she's honed for years. While in Texas, she photographed homes, signs, and architecture with a similar style and rigor. Straight photography is often seen as an attempt to portray the scene as close as possible to its truth, without inserting ones own beliefs or ideals into the frame. Hill's photographs, much like William Eggleston's portraits of houses and roadside businesses, play with light and color in a dreamy, surreal way.

Hill has no plans to complete the project just yet. "I'm still very much in the experimentation phase. I still don't think I've seen or see everything that is happening in Oakwood Beach," she said, "I'm going to let it take me where it wants to take me."

Check out more of her work at her website here or at her profile here

Introducing.. The 66 Collective by The 66 Collective

After months of planning and preparation, we are thrilled to introduce the 66 Collective! With this website, we expect to foster a creative community that facilitates discussion, thought, and individual and collective growth as artists and as people. We're a collective of visual artists, with immense medium variation. We are photographers, installation artists, poets, performance artists, and filmmakers, among others. 

You can meet each of us through our individual pages, which we will be constantly updating with new work. (See Artists.)

But here - the blog - is where the magic will happen. We will be collaborating here, making new creations and critiquing old ones. We'll discuss resources and provide updates, which will prove to be essential as we move forward from graduate school. We'll be a network, a community, and a platform, all bundled in one. 

As we blossom into this public expression of community, we thank you for joining us. This creative path is a little different from what we normally put on websites, but we're eager to begin experimenting together. 

Cheers and welcome! 

A Look Back by Hannah Harley

By Hannah Harley

We are eagerly preparing for next week's Open Studio, which means I'm nostalgically looking through my blog posts from last year. One of my favorites was a short post filled with images from my first Open Studios, including pictures of almost all of my classmates in their studios. For most of us, it was the first studio space we've had.

It's always amusing to look back at pictures and think about how young you were, even if only a year has passed. A few of my classmates looked back at these images and couldn't get over how we were all "babies". We still had a lot to learn. And we still do. I mean, that's why we're here, isn't it? 

So catch us on Friday, July 21st from 6-8 at 25 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003! We'll be providing refreshments and showing our work. I'll be grabbing portraits of my classmates in their studios, so feel free to wave me down and grab one of you! 

Here's an excerpt from last year's Open Studios! Can't wait to see you there. 

- Hannah

Parsons MFA students hosted an Open Studio on Friday night, allowing the public into our most personal creative spaces. It was a rare glimpse into our processes and the work we've created over the past two months. 

I think each of my peers would say that it's been a rigorous and trying two months. Transitioning to New York, acclimating to graduate school pace, constantly challenging our own beliefs and theories, long days and long nights.. It has been quite a summer of personal and artistic growth, individually and as a collective. And I'm grateful that this is the team I got to take that journey with. 

As the night progressed, I forced each of my classmates to let me take their portraits in their studios. Everyone (myself included) was pretty awkward in front of the camera (I mean, we're photographers for a reason.. Being behind a camera offers control and the beautiful benefit of not being the subject.), but they were good sports about it. For most of us, this is our first studio and our first real dip into the art world. It's exciting in an unparalleled way. Making moves towards bigger things, one step at a time.. And with these amazing artists.