Featured Artist: Jaina Cipriano

“Beacon”
Self-Portrait ©Jaina Cipriano

What kinds of reactions do your photos get? How do you feel about those reactions.

A friend who came to my last solo show told me she’d had a dream that mixed several elements from my photographs. Gut reactions like this are my favorite. I want to get in your head. I want to remind you of something you’ve forgotten.

One of the things that sparked my interest in your photography was the emotion portrayed in the models and how much energy and movement they have. How do you work with models to achieve those elements? How do you find models willing to get into that state of mind?

I’ve carved enough of a niche out that models who want to experience their emotions in front of a camera actively seek me out. This rawness and authenticity is achieved through my use of continuous lighting, music and the set design itself. I strive to make an environment so visceral that you want to lose yourself in it.

“Tell Me You Remember More Than I Do”
Model: Emma ©Jaina Cipriano

When you approach someone about modeling for one of your shots, how do you explain what you will be doing?

In the past I’ve gone so far as to write an immersive script for them to read before hand and get them in the headspace I recommend before we start shooting. This script is available to purchase on my website as a professionally printed zine.

Do you plan out the entire shot beforehand or do you see what happens in the moment?

I considered myself a documentary photographer for years before I began working in the studio. I took inspiration from Nan Goldin and followed my friend closely in and out of their darkness. I still work this way in the studio. Move through, experience the space and react to it. I’ll capture you.

“Take Your Time”
Model: Zen Crosby ©Jaina Cipriano

How did you start out as a photographer? Did you study art formally in any way?

I started out as a child stealing my parents polaroid film. I got my first (terrible) digital camera when I was 13 and I was hooked. In 2013 I began studying at The New England School of Photography where I fell in love with light.

“Something About You I Don’t Understand”

Models: Kimberly Cunningham, Grace Drinkwater
©Jaina Cipriano

I love the vivid colors in your work, they feel otherworldly, like all of your images are taken in a slightly altered version of reality. Is that a fair statement? Are you conscious of the colors in your work?

That is absolutely a fair statement. I am extremely conscious of the colors in my work, I spend most of my time thinking about color combinations and the emotions they elicit.

Do you edit the images in photoshop once you’ve taken them?

Never.

I know you build your own sets for some of the images, how do you conceptualize those sets and props? Where do the ideas come from? How long does it take you to build them?

The ideas stem generally from some place or time that has deeply affected me. I chose props by looking at their emotional symbolism. Sets vary in time but some take upwards of 40 hours, especially if I’m welding or working with lumber.

“We’ve Got To Hold On”
Models: Kimberly Cunningham, Sarah Bliss
©Jaina Cipriano

What project are you currently working on?

My newest project’s working title is “Finding Bright”. I haven’t found the proper words to describe it yet, but I want to build sets that are more daring, complex and seamless while pushing my ideas of my art and working with my models to get even stranger and more raw.

Is there a personal meaning to any or all of your photographs?

All of them, there’s no reason to create without.

What is the greatest achievement you’ve reached so far as an artist? What are you the most proud of, and what are your goals?

Finishing “The Garden”. A year’s worth of shooting edited down into 40 photos that got two solo gallery shows in less than a years time.

My goals are to work bigger and better, every day.

“Not so Tough Anymore, Huh?”
Model: Grace Drinkwater ©Jaina Cipriano

How do you pick out the best image in a set of similar ones? What are the things you are looking for?

I am looking for The Decisive Moment. I need emotion, movement, light and framing to all come together to tell a story that hints at movement before and after the photo. When work is coming from my core like this, my gut lights up when I see the right one– I just know.

What words would you use to describe your work?

Loaded. Visceral. Un-reality.

“Get Away From Me”
Model: Grace Drinkwater©Jaina Cipriano

Jaina can be found on instagram @jainasphotography. For more of her photography, including full series, check out her website jainaciprianophotography.com

Introducing Andy Conley

Andy Conley is one of the founders of Boston Visual Artists and has been working as a Boston photographer for the past few years.

R1 © Andy Conley
Model: Michet

Is there a unifying theme in your work? 

Honestly and Progress. I am still learning A LOT and I meet people every time I am out that teaches me something new. I don’t think their is a unified theme like gender or race. Its more of a personal theme of constantly pushing myself to try something and being as honest in my art as possible. 

Is there a personal meaning to any or all of your photographs? 

It depends on the shoot. Some are more personal and address something that affects me. I have a lot of anxiety and depression and planning a photograph around that can be very therapeutic.  

Other shoots ‘meaning’ is just to bring me happiness and to challenge myself to be better than the last time. I love the act of shooting and lining up an image in camera. Knowing you walked away with a great portrait. Its especially exciting when the model and myself get along well and have good creative chemistry. Thats when Ill shoot like, 500 shots. I also use photography to remind myself I still have a fun imagination lol. Coming up with an idea I know no one else probably has.  

“HULK HANDS” © Andy Conley
Model: Tori Roisman 

How do you plan out a shoot? Are there poses, compositions or scenes you plan out beforehand?

Usually it starts with a theme. I have something I want to say but 9 times out of 10 do not know how I will do it. I sit on that idea for a while and slowly build the “set”. With these types of shoot I will think about it so much that by shooting day I have everything so figured out I can basically take 1 shot and have my image. Images like “Hulk Hands” and “Monkey Nipples” have started that way.

When it comes to just portrait shoots, I am a bit more cavalier. I will just invite someone over and begin shooting. I don’t know what I want but will know the moment I get the shot. Too me, its all in the eyes. I will hold a camera on a posing model, looking through the view finder, and simply sit there, not shooting, until I see the look I am going for. It can take a moment but you can usually notice when a model finally lets their guard down and really LOOKS at the camera. Going into it, maybe I’ll have an idea for one or two poses but then its all shooting from the hip. 

“Neo Francais” © Andy Conley
Model: Hannah Rose Scotti

How did you start as a photographer? Do you have any specific artists who inspire you?

I started in high school! My familiarity with photography and the art goes back some time. My father was a hobby photographer and we had a dark room and an enlarger when I was really young.

When I finally reached high school I took photography as an elective and fell in love with it. We shot on film so I would get to do the whole process of getting it developed and found I was quite the natural at it. All the people in class would have me roll their film and I would give small instructions to people who weren’t listening while the teacher spoke. I ended up skipping gym class all year and would just go to the dark room to develop. My gym teacher wouldn’t care and would mark me ‘present’. I got a 100 in gym AND photography. Now that I type this answer, I am seeing how weird it is that they grade you in gym… 

As for specific artists, I have a few that really spoke to me. Of the greats; Alfred Stieglitz – I mean, The Steerage is considered one of the greatest photographs ever taken, you gotta give him credit obviously. Richard Avedon is another that, in my practice, I discovered and fell in love. He’s one of the greats so I don’t need to say much about him. His portraiture is some of the best taken. He was able to capture his subjects emotions and capture honest images. The piece of his that SPECIFICALLY stood out to me was ‘Dovima with Elephants’. I must have spent hours just staring at that image.

As for new age artists. I really enjoy Nicholas Bruno. He is a current American photographer who is inspired by his night terrors and sleep paralysis. Maison Mètamose. She is a French tattoo artist that does a lot what she calls “organic poetry”. Its a very abstract and cubist form of art. Her ability to put her original pieces together on human skin is really incredible. She has a great use of negative space. I don’t know what it is about it, but I just love the coordinated chaos. Finally, Id say Ed Mason. He does live music photography, all black and white, and his images are more art than documentation. He’s able to create these brilliant images. Live photography is great because your subject is doing their complete own thing, and you have theatric lights that create a new scene every second. I recently got to do it and really enjoyed myself!   

Do you consider yourself more of a studio photographer or on-location?

Definitely more of a studio photographer. I enjoy being outside and doing everything there. Its nice, but I find myself almost clueless to what I wanna shoot. In a studio I have complete control and usually have an image already in mind or have an easier time thinking on the spot.

“MONKEY NIPPLES”  ©Andy Conley
Model: Leila Magnolia

Can you explain the meaning behind one or more of your photos (Monkey Nipples)

Monkey Nipples (MODEL: Leila Magnolia) was in limbo for a long time. That piece discusses censorship. We share 99% of our DNA with Chimpanzees and you can show them, male or female, in all their glory. You  cant show ANY of a women’s nipple though. This is not new news to anyone. To me, that is purely the over sexualization of the female form. Everyones got nipples! What makes my nipples any more appropriate than a women’s? Their’s are actually far more useful. Women are told to cover up to protect… I don’t know, something. Young men? themselves? I forget what reason Evangelicals and GOP are telling people these days, but I assure you, its bullshit. My picture is basically a ‘fuck you’ to these censorships and groups demanding it. I don’t know if it means anything coming from me, a white male. BUT if I can bring some type of social questioning to someone that will be enough. It took a long time to get someone to shoot this with me and I am lucky that Leila was so badass and into the idea.

Hulk Hands (MODEL: Victoria Roisman) was another that I am very proud off. This one is supposed to be as random as it appears. A lot of photography today is very premeditated to appear ‘random’ and there are very trendy themes you always see. I was speaking with my friends about it one day and I joked that I might as well ‘have a women in underwear, eating a grapefruit, and wearing hulk hands’. Boom. I did it that next week. I did it to almost mock all those other people who just put someone in a trendy situation for likes. Have more to say than that! Or at least don’t put some inspirational bullshit in the caption, UGH!

“Woman in Rain” ©Andy Conley
Model: Lauren Marston

Is there an overall theme you try to express in your work, or does it change piece to piece?

It changes piece to piece. I wish I had the attention span to continuously shoot the same theme over and over. I have tried! Prisms. Black and whites. Femme fatales. Noir. Lifestyle. I just cant focus that much on one thing. Im too ‘A.D.D.’. I live a tornado-like life. Everything I own and think are spinning around me in utter chaos. My emotions ARE my sleeves. Everything I wanna say or do spins around me, ripping roofs off other peoples homes and occasionally I reach in and complete a project thats been spinning for a bit. 

What is the weirdest thing you’ve done for a photoshoot (Or a good story) 

Woooo good questions. I don’t know if I have any good stories. Besides probable trespassing charges that could be brought up with me. Ive covered people in paint and food. The models face when first seeing the backdrop I made for Monkey Nipples was funny. The one I have coming up is honestly probably the weirdest. I cant say much about it but I will say it involves a live duck!

“Woman Sits atop Roof” © Andy Conley
Model: Alisa Kryzanovski

Featured Artist: Madeline DeWolf

In one sentence, can you say what the series “Ethan” means to you? If it’s too personal or you’d like to leave it up to interpretation that’s ok. “Ethan” is about healing, the series itself is a story about my experience with sexual assault, it is about speaking up and getting stronger.

How do you start a mixed media piece like this? Do you start by painting, writing, or something else?I usually start a piece like this by brainstorming an idea after I’ve got a clear narrative I begin to collect images and sort through the box of stuff I already have.Then I just go for it, arranging pieces of paper and seeing what works. I glue everything down and then I add to it with paint or ink.

How did you start as a visual artist? Do you have any specific artists who inspire you?Growing up art was my first form of expression, my most comfortable form of communication. My mother took me to a lot of museums in Boston as a child,so my first experiences in the world of art were with some of the greats; Monet, Rembrandt, Degas. Today some of my favorites are Ray Johnson, Jenny Woods and Georgia O’Keeffe.

What is the significance of the color in the series?I use to want to be a therapist, that’s what I thought I would be when I grew up, specifically an art therapist. I’ve studied a lot about the psychology of color and how different colors make people feel different things. I try to incorporate color in this way into a lot of my pieces. With a series like this, filled with emotion, I chose colors that represented (to me) the emotions I was feeling about the pieces themselves. That’s why the paint went on last, when all was said and done, I just let the colors show how each piece made me feel.

I know you are in school for art, how do you think this affected you as an artist?

Being in school for art has changed the way I look at myself as an artist. When I started 3 years ago (with my major undeclared) I still thought of art as a hobby of mine, something I was wildly passionate about but didn’t believe could be a career. It wasn’t until I worked with my teachers Kelly Popoff and Penne Krol (two people who have been very influential to me) that I realized that I could do this if I really wanted to. It’s been a lot of hard work, sometimes discouraging even, but worth it. I feel stronger now that I’ve been through the art program at my school.

Is there an overall theme you try to express in your work, or does it change piece to piece?My work has always been very personal, more like a diary than anything. I make art about things that are often left unspoken (sex, abuse, drugs, suicide), it’s in your face and raw. Some people have told me that my work makes them uncomfortable, that secretly makes me really happy because it makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I wouldn’t say there’s a particular theme to everything I do. What I would say is that my art is form of healing for myself and the dialogues that I’ve engaged in due to showing my pieces are rewarding.

Madeline can be found on instagram at lupine_art_