I met my project mentor, Melissa Catanese, when I took Photo 1 with her last year. My professor from another class suggested I take a class with Melissa since she thought we had some similarities in our work and that I would benefit a lot from the class. I’m so glad I was able to learn from Melissa as it has had a huge impact on how I think about image and narrative now. I am drawn to the stillness and depth of Melissa photographs, and how she can compile and connect different images into a larger story. Her ability to insert new meaning into old images is something I also find powerful. I remember she had us sequence each other’s photographs into a series during a class activity one time, and seeing her process of looking at and taking in the images, reordering and weaving them together, was really insightful and inspiring. I joined in on crits for Melissa’s directed study class last spring, too, for feedback on my fellowship work, and it was super helpful to bounce ideas around and hear the opinions of others. Melissa’s expertise and wisdom in her field has also helped me a lot as I consider how I piece together the “fragments” I work with. I remember her saying during a crit that nothing in a photograph is unintentional, and that has stuck with me as I consider photos as codified stories, where everything in the frame (and conversely, out of the frame) has meaning. Learning this was really empowering since I realized I was able to shape narrative and “reality” through the camera.
I would love to make more connections with other creatives across disciplines. I find a lot of my anthropology and Asians studies courses to be really conceptually enriching, which is a foundation for thinking about artwork. It would be super cool to collaborate with other students in these fields and in those in more traditionally creative disciplines like art/film/music. I’ve been dying to work on a collaborative creative project for forever, and it would really be a dream come true to make something with others 🙂 I would also love to collaborate on a creative project with Jaded, a Pittsburgh-based Asian art collective I recently found out about through a friend. I find making artwork about identity to be both healing and empowering, and I can only imagine it would be that much more empowering with a community. In general, I think pursuing art is often looked down upon in the Asian community and in immigrant communities, so I think having a space where creative work is celebrated would be super uplifting.