Sunday, March 29, 2009

SPE Portfolio: Matthew E. Clowney


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Matthew E. Clowney (Website), MFA graduate from RISD and currently an educator in several venues, showed me a few projects this morning. We also had a really good little chat about my ideas on fear and photography (but that’s a totally seperate future line of thought.) Matthew didn’t have any prints on him, but showed me his work on the laptop. His had a clear screen and, as I’ve said before, I’m not a print fetishist, so I didn’t mind this.

He also was the best prepared person I talked to – since he was ready to give me a big pile of jpgs right off his thumbdrive. I didn’t have to wait at all or do any googling or screenshotting to be able to share his work. Since I’ve got so much of it, I’ll talk a little about a few different projects (The shot above, part of a self portrait series, was from when he accidentally nicked himself with a blade while shaving – “you know how some things just bleed.”)

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Matthew had a fair amount of self portrait images. I picked out these two because I enjoyed the reclining position. When asked about it he told me that it wasn’t really something he always does consciously – he just happens to sleep like that. I like seeing softly approached self portraits of guys – posturing gets old really quick, but it’s a lot harder to find softness and vulnerability visually offensive.

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I wanted to put these two images in, from a large body of family portraits, because I think they’re good examples of how to handle composting – there is no reason you have to shoot people in the studio in order to shoot them separately. Having done portraits of groups myself before, I can appreciate this approach – it’s certainly frustrating to get everyone well in one image, though the process can result in some really lovely moments. I don’t find these as interesting, in general, as some of Clowney’s other work, but you can tell in the higher res files that they were crafted well and the individual portraits were approached with a good sensibility. As a bonus, check out those big arms and black cats!

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In the last series pictured here he went into strangers’ homes (with permission of course) and photographed himself playing the role of a guest overstaying his welcome while they went about their lives. Notice that they haven’t set the table for him in the second image – a nice touch that he was quick to point out.

On his website, there is also a charming little picture timeline, documenting himself from a fresh faced kid to intensely long haired young man and then shaven baldy. Anyone familiar with my highschool days (and then subsequent performance art during college) can probably understand why this is hilarious to me.

Aaanyway, this is the last portfolio I’ll be able to update before I hit my flight back to Savannah. My immediate focus on landing will shift a little (I haven’t seen Beth for a few days and I’ve got some hefty assignments to finish for school and a magazine) but I promise more updates are just now cresting over the horizon.

Stay Tuned, Sportsfans!

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 4:37 pm  

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