Jurying for Critical Mass 2009 is underway, and you can find some picks by juror Ruben Natal San-Miguel on his blog, ARTmostfierce. I opted out of submitting work this year, primarily because I wanted to spend more time developing my current portrait series before I attempt to get it published in book form.
I was one of the fifty finalists in last year's Critical Mass and was recently interviewed by Shawn Records about my work and my experience with Photolucida.
You can find an illustrated version of the interview on Photolucida's blog: CM (08) Top 50 Profiles: Tema Stauffer
• Name, location
Tema Stauffer, Brooklyn, New York
• Is photography your day job? If not, do you want it to be?
Part of my income comes from photography, both from sales of fine artwork and some commercial jobs. I also teach photo classes at The School of the International Center of Photography, and I recently started a position as Assistant Curator for a new website for the arts called Culturehall, which promotes artists and arts writers through an online community and list of resources.
• Can you remember/describe the first print you ever made? Why photography? Why do you do this?
I remember the first roll of slide film I shot for my first photography course at The Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts. I shot some portraits of my best friend in high school on slide film sitting in a cemetery. As corny as that sounds, the light was gorgeous, and my teacher was impressed, which gave me some encouragement. I immediately responded to the medium for the experiences and adventures it inspires one to pursue. Photography is a reason to go somewhere and to develop a relationship with somebody or something.
• How did your project develop?
The images I submitted to Critical Mass are part of an ongoing project exploring the character of the American landscape. This series, American Stills, began with an image of a lonely gas station under a blazing orange sky in the year 2000, and I don’t know exactly when it will be complete as a body of work.
• It's early yet, but have you had any concrete opportunities arise from your participation in Critical Mass? Shows? Publications? Print sales? High fives at a party?
Since my participation in Critical Mass last fall, I have exhibited work in a two-person show with Francesca Romeo at Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery, and a group show at Sasha Wolf Gallery organized by a collective of women photographers called NYMPHOTO. However, neither of these exhibitions came as a result of my involvement with Critical Mass. Perhaps, though, some of my peers became more familiar with my work as a result of the combined exposure through Critical Mass and Flak Photo.
• Who are your favorite photographers, images, websites, projects, or blogs, etc. that inspire?
Recently, I have been particularly interested in portraits by Rineke Dijkstra and photographs of the everyday in America by Paul Graham. Some of the photographers who have deeply informed my relationship to photography are Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Joel Sternfeld, William Eggleston, Diane Arbus, and Richard Billingham. I have also listed blogs on my blog and websites on my website which reflect work by peers in the arts that I follow and admire. There are too many to list here, but feel free to take a look.
• Do you have a favorite youtube video that you'd like to share? It doesn't have to be photo-related.
A writer and photographer friend who lives in Virginia, Mark Burnette, once posted a link on his blog, Conditions Uncertain, to a music video for the song, “Kiss” - a duet by Will Oldham and Scout Niblett. I loved the video and watched it over and over again on lonely winter nights and eventually bought Scout’s album. The video is playfully dark, whimsical, romantic, funny, and sweet.