"I WANT TO EXPLORE female introspection and the complexities of childhood," declared photographer Holly Andres at last month's Semi-Permanent speaker series—a specific, challenging creed that stood out from other artists' more predictable assertions. ("I spend a lot of time looking at images." "I don't overthink it.")
Andres' narrative photo series are vibrantly filmic, evoking Sofia Coppola's worldview through Wes Anderson's lens—though her actual influences are much closer to home: her Montanan childhood as the youngest of 10, her love of Nancy Drew books and Hitchcock's heroines, and religious iconography from her lapsed Catholicism.
The Hysteria Era: "My new series examines girlhood, alluding to the era of Victorian psychoanalysis. I reference the themes and conventions of early 19th century photographic manipulation and 'darkroom trickery.'"
Child-whispering: "I honestly don't direct my [child models] to embody feelings of contemplation, or wander through any method-acting techniques; I just wait until they're used to the camera and are no longer 'performing' in front of my lens. I find that merely capturing children's 'off moments' is apparently so unconventional to the way that they're typically photographed, that it's often enough to represent the feeling I'm trying to elicit."
Goin' "girly": "When I was a kid I got this [boyish] bowl haircut, and my older siblings started a rumor that I used to be a boy and my dad castrated me in order to maintain an even boy-girl ratio in our family. This wasn't helped by the fact that my dad did home taxidermy and cured sausages in his spare time, so we had a freezer full of sausages.... After that, I made an effort to be as 'girly' as possible."
Commercial vs. personal: "When I made the transition into the commercial sphere, I decided that I had to find a way to make it as fulfilling and meaningful as making art. I entered the commercial world with a relatively strong and varied portfolio of personal work that was not made under the influence of commercial application—and this is the work that has garnered the most attention from photo editors, art directors, and art buyers."
Andres will participate in Portland Art Museum's Artist Talks on April 11 and showcase a mid-career retrospective at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem in late May. Much of her portfolio is also viewable online at hollyandres.com.