Tag Archives: Self Expression

Lisa McCord

Some people are born storytellers and a lot of those storytellers are born in the South.  As they narrate their lives, there is a cadence to their speech, to their images–a slowed down lyrical way of conveying information.  Lisa McCord is one of those storytellers, and I am letting her do the talking today (just throw in a Southern accent as you read).  Lisa has been a photographer for a long time and I am sharing a long ago body of work, Rotan Switch, about the community she grew up in, and also celebrating her inclusion in the Holiday exhibition at the Lisa Kurts Gallery in Memphis opening tomorrow night, December 7th, where she keeps excellent company with William Eggleston and William Christenberry.

I was precocious child, born to a young mother and grandmother who were painters and creative
spirits. My mother’s art determined the course of my life. If my mother wanted to paint in a new place,
we simply moved. We moved 13 times before I was 18. I often accompanied her to the Arkansas Arts
Center where she took figure-painting classes. During class, I shaped clay sculptures, based on the nude
model on the other side of the divided painting studio. She taught me to use my imagination and find a
sense of home in my self-expression. Like my mother, I too, lived in many places, following my
photographic curiosities. It wasn’t until after graduate school, that I settled in one place, Los Angeles
with my husband and son. 

Since we moved so many times, my sense of place is based on my grandparent’s home, a
cotton farm in Arkansas on the Mississippi Delta, where they lived for most of their lives. My
grandparents and their home was the only permanent thing in my life. Much of my work draws from my
relationship with permanence and transience. 

While studying at an all-girls boarding school in Michigan that is connected to Cranbrook
Academy of Art, I became interested in photography. I pursued an education in photography at schools
in New York, Paris, and Greece, and California. I lived and photographed in London, Guatemala, Haiti,
and throughout the United States. After finishing graduate school, I taught photography at several
high schools and universities in the LA area. I am now working full time as a fine art photographer,
allowing the camera to take me places both in the past and present, creating photographs that explore
my memories and tell my stories. 

Rotan Switch

Growing up in the South is very different than growing up anywhere else. The unique social
norms of the south colored our life with a richness that made us who we are. My immediately family, my
mother, sister, brother, and I, moved thirteen times before I was eighteen. Although we lived all over
the United States, the southern nuances remain dominant in our characters. There are many southern
archetypes in my family. My mother, Sherwood, a painter, was the rebel of our family. Uncle Eldon, Dr.
Eldon Fairley, the country doctor, was the caregiver of our town. My grandfather, Harold Ohlendorf, a
tenant farmer and self-made businessman was the town benefactor. The encouragement of these
three personalities, along with the influences of other family members, freed my siblings and me to
dream big, be kind, remember our P’s and Q’s, and always say, “Hallelujah!” after God’s graces.

Cambio Creativo

Art is a universal language, and without a doubt, the importance of young minds being blown by possibility and imagination is one of the best gifts we can pass on to the next generation.  Photographers Lorena Endara and Rose Cromwell are doing just that at Cambio Creativo in Panama.  They celebrate young photographer’s personal interpretations bringing voice to their world.

Cambio Creativo is an educational platform that promotes critical thinking skills, determination and self-expression through the process of exchanging ideas and skills. We facilitate a space for mutual exchange between a group of mentors and students in Coco Solo (Colon, Panama). Monthly interdisciplinary workshops are led by mentors from Colon, Panama City and abroad. We trust that by stimulating knowledge, creativity, and positive experiences, participants will find alternatives for their own social and economic development.

Images by the students of Cambio Creativo

Celestina, age 10

Idalia, age 12
Kimberley, age 17

Manuel, age 8

Roberto, age 15

Luis, age 14

Pocha, age 12

Omar, age 16

Bladimir, age 17
Rafael, age 15

Yari, age 12
Rosa, age 12

Carlos, age 18
Gladys, age 15

Jesus David, age 18

Susan Barnett

A number of years ago, I met Susan Barnett when she sat down at my table at Center’s Review L.A.  I was reviewing portfolios and knew that I was looking at a body of work that “had legs”.  Well, those legs have grown arms, a torso, and a head full of possibilities.  I am so thrilled to share the news that Not In Your Face has reached gallery walls with Susan’s first solo exhibition at the DeSantos Gallery in Houston.  The show opens on Saturday, June 16th, with an opening that begins at 5:30pm.  Susan also recently announced that the Library of Congress has purchased three prints from this project. And there is a lot more good news on the horizon.
This is a project that I often show in my classes because it is complex in it’s simplicity.  She shows us what we are communicating at this point in history, via the great leveler, the T-Shirt. Susan finds themes of self expression, explores the idea of personal advertisement, and ultimately, makes us look at our humanity with a sense of humor and a sense of reality.
This might be Susan’s first solo gallery exhibition but by no means has she been laying low.  Her work has been exhibited and published all over the world, and in 2013, she will have another solo exhibition at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado. She lives in New York City and comes to photography after a career as a gallery director.

 In the series “Not In Your Face” the
t-shirt is starkly evident but these photographs are not about 
the t-shirt per se. They are about
identity, validation and perception. I look for individuals 
who stand out in a crowd by
their choice of the message on their back and  for those people willing to pose for me. The messages are combinations
of pictures and words that are appropriated from contemporary culture but have
the unique effect of mixing up meanings and creating new meanings.

On the streets these personalities create
their own iconography that explore the cultural, political and social issues
that have an impact on our everyday lives. The t-shirt “performs a function of
identifying an indvidual’s social location instantly”.  In the early months of 2012, the LA
Times ran a front page article describing the emergence of the t-shirt and
hoodie as a staple of the protest movement worn in support of Trayvon Martin, a
young man gunned down in Florida that became a cause célèbre throughout the

The Trayvon Martin protest T-shirt has become a
staple at rallies across the country, and it’s 
difficult to think of another item of clothing more
representative of the nation’s twitchy 
zeitgeist in April 2012. Sometimes it seems as
though the old-fashioned medium of the cotton t-shirt has done as much as the
Internet to spread the memes associated with the tragedy through the 
country — and the world.

In these photographs we witness a chronicle
of American subcultures and vernaculars which illustrate the current American identity.
These photographs demonstrate how these individuals wear a kind of “badge of
honor or trophy” that says “I belong to this group not the other”. T-shirts
speak to like-minded people; a particular t-shirt may be meaningful to those
with different views and affiliations.

Each one of these people reveal a part of
themselves that advertises their hopes, ideals, likes, dislikes, political views, and personal
mantras. “The t-shirt speaks to issues related to ideology, differences, and myth: politics, race,
gender and leisure”.

I believe the power of each portraitʼs
meaning becomes apparent from the juxtaposition of many images. It is a universe of individuals
but when seen in groups they 
create a picture of our time without the imposition of judgment. Is this
democracy at work? We may feel we know more about these individuals than we
really do. What is their story? Here their individual mystery is preserved and the power of
photography can celebrate our urge to unravel it.

Dedicated to my late Mother, Mary, whose faith in me made all this possible.”Dedicated to my late Mother, Mary, whose faith in me made all this possible.”