Something a little different today - featuring the photography of Amanda Rowan!
“I am often thinking about themes of women's sexuality, and domestic labor. I am inspired by Dutch painting and vintage pinup photography, particularly of burlesque performers from the 1930s and food photography from the 1950s.”
“I want to create images that are lush and visually aesthetic, but as you look closer, you see parts of a story and find unanswered questions. I like moments that are theatrical and timeless. Much of my work is self portraiture and I think this is an act of feminism. I am interested in my body as a symbol but I am also in control of objectifying it.”
Rowan describes her work as: Vivid, Hummer, Sensuality. I find her exploration of objectification, femininity and performance intriguing, alongside the lurid and lush colour palette.
Where are you answering these questions from AMANDA?
Los Angeles/ Hawaii
AND, Quick one, what 3 words would you use to describe your artwork?
Vivid, Hummer, Sensuality
Tell me about the early years of your professional life and how you began to build your career as an artist.
My mother tells me then when I was very young, maybe 4 or 5 I would arrange objects and flowers in my house and make scenes with my dolls. I called them “Set-Ups” and would insist that they not be moved. But what I remember the most was playing dress-up!
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
The work of Man Ray, Jo Ann Callis, Maurizio Cattelan, Alma-Tadema, Cecil Beaton, and Julia Margaret Cameron are some of the artists I am inspired by. I found them in museums and newsstands and art books. They are all very different but amazing at lighting. They also all explore the intersection of fantasy and reality. Their work has all given me the bravery to be more whimsical in my work.
What do you want your work to say? What are the main themes and motifs running through your work? Is there a narrative that runs throughout?
I am often thinking about themes of women's sexuality, and domestic labor. I am inspired by Dutch painting and vintage pinup photography, particularly of burlesque performers from the 1930s and food photography from the 1950s. I want to create images that are lush and visually aesthetic, but as you look closer, you see parts of a story and find unanswered questions. I like moments that are theatrical and timeless. Much of my work is self portraiture and I think this is an act of feminism. I am interested in my body as a symbol but I am also in control of objectifying it.
What is your studio like?
My Project "Ritual" was shot entirely in the studio with elaborate lighting setups. It was dark and filled with tons of fresh flowers so it smelled amazing. I have had the pleasure of working with @floresebosquez on many of the elaborate arrangements for that project. The studio is also a place where I am building elements of the sets and I have several large tables dedicated to props. But since covid I have been shooting in my small kitchen and outside.
Where do you like to create the best?Photography as a medium has an inherent sense of documenting something authentic. But I am most interested in using photography to capture something theatrical and not totally real. I love the intersection of illusion and reality. I use a mixed natural light and studio lighting to create a sense of stage lighting and I can be anywhere as long as I have some lighting.
How would you describe your local art scene?Intersection, open, queer and politocal. I live in Los Angeles and before COVID I would go to several amazing art shows each week and the scene was very fun! I am also a professor of photography at The New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The school is mostly international and I feel lucky to be in conversation with the talented faculty, students and emerging artists. I am also in touch with thoughtful artist friends globally who consistently push me to think critically about my work and also about the world.
What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without?I think time is the most important thing for an artist. Time to daydream, research, and get inspired. Time to create. For me learning to carve out this time for myself and prioritize my creative space has been a hugely valuable lesson and it is a necessity.
What do you listen to while you work?Classic female jazz divas like Bessy Smith, Ninia Simone, Etta Games, and Ella Fitzgerald. I also am falling in love with the 1960’s music from Japan.
Tell me about your artistic process?My process is constantly evolving but currently, I start by thinking about what I want to say and then collect objects and locations that seem to transmit that message.
Once I have collected all the objects and props I arrange them and light them usually in the studio or take them into nature.
What are you most proud of during your career?Being able to connect with people and inspire them through my work.
What piece of advice might you give to an aspiring artist?Stop worrying about what other people would think if you made exactly what you dream of making. You can't be afraid of what your truth will trigger in others.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?I have an art band with my husband called @rosiebudmusic on Instagram.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?Lol! I would have High Tea the actress Marlene Dietrich.
What is your greatest indulgence in life other than the artwork?I love vintage fashion. I love looking at it on others and wearing it! I also get immense pleasure from cooking!
Favorite historical female artist?I have always been captivated by the beauty of the Pre-Raphaelite art movement and especially the photography of Julia Margaret Cameron. I am so glad she is being rediscovered through social media.
Favorite current practicing female artists and their Instagram handles?Polina Osipova @polinatammiand
Carrie Able @carrieableart
Naomi White @maomiwhitevisualartist
Nadia Lee Cohen @nadialeelee
Alexa Johnson @alexagerrity
Amber Jean Yong @amberjeanyong
Katerina Stratos @katerinastratos
Who should She Curate interview next and their Instagram handles (as many as you like!)?All of the above women are amazing and also you should interview Kala G Coleman @kaylagcoleman. She is a very powerful art historian, educator, and writer based in New York City and specializes in Modern and Contemporary art by black artists in the United States and the Caribbean.
Is there anything else you wanted to say?I am so greatful to be featured in this conversation about women artists! Thank you for including me!