Full Membership In the Alberta Society of Artists
Today I just received notice that I’ve been juried in as a full member of the Alberta Society of Artists. The ASA has a long history in Alberta, having been founded in 1931 as the first association of professional artists in the province. I first became aware of the ASA a few years ago as I was looking around for various associations of working visual artists operating in Alberta. Trying to develop my own photography very much with a view towards artistic expression, I’ve likewise developed an interest in other forms of visual art. I believe there are a lot of very interesting and pragmatic cross-pollination opportunities available to photographic artists by studying other visual forms.
It was once I began to follow the excellent pictorialist photography of Rocky Mountain House-based Roberta Murray, who is also a member of the ASA, that I decided to join up. This year while I was preparing my second accreditation submission for the PPOC, I also prepared a submission to the ASA membership jury. Since the PPOC category to which I was submitting was “Fine Art / Photo Decor”, I selected an array of images that I felt would serve equally well as works for review by the ASA jury. I’m very gratified that both associations accepted the submissions; it provides positive feedback not only on the strength of each individual image, but also reinforces that careful editing and curation work can pay off in the consideration of judges. 🙂
The ASA application process has the following preface: “The ASA is open to artists working in all visual media. The ASA seeks artists who demonstrate a high level of competence and a professional attitude toward their work. We accept artists whose work shows consistency, as well as potential for growth. Aesthetic value, concept, originality, and maturity must be evident in the work submitted for full membership. This includes non-traditional and innovative works.”
The list of criteria the jury is looking for includes many things one would expect, but also one that is perhaps less obvious but the most intriguing — “potential for growth”. Creative development is a big theme for me. I’m pursuing it personally, and talk a lot about it in the presentations and workshops I give. I write about it here, too, from time to time. While I sometimes feel more focused and directed in my pursuit of creative growth, and other times feel a bit like I’ve either lost my path or am standing at a cross-roads without a clear idea of which branch to choose, the one common thing I try to keep front of mind is the need to continuously learn and grow in my ability to experience, interpret and express.
Creative development is one of the biggest reasons why I’ve joined the ASA. It’s not just so I can toot my own horn now that I’ve received full juried membership, although that does feel pretty cool right now. 🙂 Rather it’s because interaction with the group and participating in their programs — including their array of exhibition opportunities — is going to help me drive my creative growth. And since the society incorporates all visual arts to the extent that photography is a minority, I’m going to have the opportunity for exposure to a lot of ideas from many different media and disciplines.
Already today at the regular ASA group meeting, I took in a fascinating presentation by art lecturer and curator Monique Westra, on the work of renowned Canadian painter Emily Carr. It gave me a couple of ideas to think about. One of them is the constant dynamic tension in photography between simply presenting facts and expressing a subjective interpretation. Photography as art can suffer from this tension if the purpose of the image-making is not clear in the mind of the photographer, or it can benefit if the purpose is made clear.
In the presentation, it was immediately obvious how Carr evolved from both a goal and a visual style that had a documentarian priority, to one that was very subjective, impressionistic and expressive, placing far less emphasis on a direct representation of the subject. Yet this evolution brought a dramatically increased power in communicating Carr’s sense of the essence of place, as well as evoking her attitude of respect, for example in the forest scenes for which she is so well known. I really like this quote of Carr’s: “There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.” Going for that kind of expressiveness is, I think, a worthy goal in any artistic medium. I’m looking forward to continued exploration along this path of creative growth.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to see the works I submitted to the ASA jury and haven’t already looked at them from my earlier PPOC post, click this link to see a Flash slideshow. If you can’t view Flash animations on your system, you can instead simply view the gallery of images. Thanks for dropping by!
If you’re a photographer with an artistic bent, do you study or follow other forms of visual art as part of your personal creative development? If so, which other disciplines or artists have inspired you or influenced your photography? Feel free to comment…