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Inside Out: Imbolc!

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I almost posted an image I took of a mountain range of laundry in my house today, all from just this past week.  It’s really impressive.  Our toddler has been waging a war against night time bed wetting, and losing, but we’re all sympathetic and optimistic!  I’ve spared you the laundry picture, I know I need to.  At times, my art practice forgets about boundaries, between my real life and the work that I make that’s loosely based on it. I’m posting this pic from today instead, (I can’t help myself).

I am honored and really excited to be a part of this project. I love the idea of a web based residency.  The pressure is certainly on, in a good way, in a different way, and I already feel a nicely burning fire under my ass to use the opportunity well!  Firstly: this opportunity has gotten me back in my darkroom after a little winter break. This winter has had me in a bit of a slump.  I’m in my last year of an MFA program at RISD, and while the end in sight is a light at the end of a tunnel, the light is also a bit terrifying, and the tunnel is pretty safe.  I think my colleagues and I are all in a similar place, we are excited about the projects we’re working on, and have had mostly good experiences at this institution, but the impending reality that awaits is certainly nerve racking!  (Any tips, post mfa-ers?)

My best friend, pioneering urban farmer, Nathaniel Wood, snapped me out of it recently. We walked along the coves of Jamestown’s Beavertail. I made a few images of rocks and ice and his fluffy dogs. It felt really important! Nathaniel suggested to me that any winter-time emotional quandary should be renegotiated come spring.  It’s good advice, I’m sure things will feel very differently with spring’s return.  We’re closer than we think too, just this past weekend was groundhog day (with Phil predicting an early spring!), but equally exciting: the ages old Imbolc, the spring is coming festival!


Among other things uplifting: Last week I went to a lecture that was one of those life changing talks that afterwards you know you’ll be mentioning for years to come.  I saw Harry Belafonte speak here at RISD in Providence.  You may know his music, or maybe you’ve never heard of him, or maybe you know that he’s an amazing human and a very important social activist.  It’s worth while to try to see the recent bio documentary on him, “Sing Your Song.”  I love his voice, and his music makes me laugh.  I didn’t know a lot about the humanitarian work that he’s done, or that he was such a close confidant of Dr. King.  At 85, he has a youthful passion and a clear vision that was completely inspiring to say the least.
I want to paraphrase the take aways from the lecture but instead it’s easy to hear what he has to say from the man himself. (Nice interview.)Harry Belafonte spoke about artists having the power to tell the truth. I think about truth and photography a lot. A photograph (being a moment out of time and context) can never be truthful, though images are read as facts. My own work avoids the problem all together by being intentionally fictious, but recently, and certainly after that lecture, I’ve been brainstorming: how can my art practice grow to say something, towards a truth, and speak for change. I’ve thought about this a lot, and have always felt that there’s a balance to be found somewhere. It’s exciting to think about. I’ll get back to you.

Two artists/educators/activists/photographers here in Providence, that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a tiny bit are Scott Lapham and Miguel Rosario.  These guys run AS220’s youth photography program, through which they also teach photography to incarcerated youth in Rhode Island.  Listen to Miguel on RI’s NPR: second chances. I have my fingers crossed that one day I’ll get to work with these guys again.

I’m also thinking of this blogging opportunity here as a chance to give shout-outs, or to talk about things that I’ve been excited about. I have lists and lists so I’m going to leak it out over the month.

Transgressor Magazine is blowing my mind. I keep coming back to it. It’s a digital only photography/outsider-culture journal, based out of Austin, Texas. Beautiful designed, and this issue features two of my favorite things: the artist Justine Kurland, and New Orleans bounce music (!!!!).

I’ve also been listening to non-stop since it came out last week: Sin Fang: Flowers, a recent album by Icelandic artist Sindri Már Sigfússon, produced by Alex Somers. It’s a complete work of art for me, from the insane fidelity (amazing production), the textured rhythms, Sindri’s song writing, the explosive energy, it’s always a whole entire world- and I love it there.


This has been on repeat for me too, (see – it’s flowing now, I have to stop my self!) the new Earl Sweatshirt track Chum. I like thinking of it as an apology to his mother. His career exploded when he was 16 (two years ago), and he was putting out songs his mom probably should have never heard, but here’s to the future and gaining clarity!

Stay tuned, my next post I’ll share some recent work (it would be great to get feedback), and I’m going to give more specific details about gradschool, and my colleagues here at RISD.I’d love to generate a dialogue if possible (the monologue is not my favorite format), whether it’s about art and activism, parenting and art, or your favorite photo blog – whatever, post a comment below, participate some, that would be so much appreciated. I’ve got to go to the laundromat now: ’til next time!

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Scott Alario is February's artist in residence on Big Red & Shiny's blog series, Inside Out.

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