From the Work Scholar’s Desk: A Visit to Andres Serrano’s Studio

By Camille Clech

Camille Clech and Andres Serrano

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Last month, Aperture’s Work Scholars had the profound pleasure of visiting Andres Serrano‘s studio. The space boasts an eclectic atmosphere; a sixteenth-century Madonna sculpture, for example, faces one of Serrano’s cinematic portraits of a Ku Klux Klan member.

We conversed with the artist on a variety of subjects, covering everything from his childhood in Williamsburg to the controversy surrounding his famous Piss Christ. Serrano collects Renaissance art and explained the importance these pieces have in his working environment, and how they affect his work. Preferring to be called an artist rather than a photographer, he also shared his opinions on current culture, the importance of the image, and the immediate nature of modern news. We were captivated by the story of his artistic rise, and his description of how the art world has changed since the beginning of his career. In closing, he answered questions about his influences, his artistic process, and the current state of photography.

After our group visit, I had the opportunity to take part in a photo shoot with Andres Serrano. Currently working on painterly reinterpretations of iconic religious scenes – such as Virgin with Child, or the Last Supper – he invited me to pose for his take on the Madonna. Supported by his wife and his assistant, he set up the background and lighting, and then took some polaroid tests to find the perfect angle and luminosity. Cloaked in the Madonna’s iconic blue veil, I posed for several shots.

I am looking forward to see which image Mr. Serrano will select during his developing and editing processes. It was an incredible experience, and I am so grateful to the Work Scholar Program for giving us all this one-of-a-kind opportunity!

Camille Clech is Aperture’s Website and Video Production Work Scholar. She is a student at the New York Institute of Technology-Old Westbury, and can’t believe she posed for an Andres Serrano portrait!

To learn more about Aperture’s Work Scholar program, click here.