A.centric Artist Profile: Beth MacDonald

March 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Welcome to the A.centric artist profile. This time around, we are pleased to have Beth MacDonald. She is currently studying film theory at UofT and her work has been popping up in galleries around town since last year. Beth was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

When did you start taking photographs and why?

Photography has been a part of my life longer than I can remember. Photography as an approach to art, on the other hand, began later — possibly in high school — once I started learning about the subject, and becoming more conscious of what I was taking photographs of, how, and why. Actually, to be honest, sometimes I still don’t know why I capture what I do. The ‘why’ factor is often not my driving photographic force, the ‘why’, more often than not, comes later. The concepts that have become the most rewarding upon their completion begin with some sort of unprecedented fascination, lacking that ‘why’ factor.

What is it about roadkill that intrigues you so much?

I started taking photographs of road kill about three years ago. Again, the initial reason was seemingly nothing beyond a fascination with death and the grotesque. But, after parking my car continuously on the sides of country roads to examine yet another individual that had succumbed to the same tragic fate as all the others, I began to notice the intricacies of this tragedy. I began to seek out the variation of death-by-car with my camera. Rather than just photograph a dead animal, I found myself examining the scene inside and out (often quite literally); sometimes capturing a certain element with my camera that could not have been planned with the eye, like a fly feasting away. So, in that respect, the examination continued long after I had left the scene of the accident; even long after I had printed, framed, and displayed the creatures.

Frames seem to be important in your work. How important are they and what do you think they add to a photo?

The frames that I chose to display my roadkill photographs in — as well as my other displays — become a part of the story that each individual will take away from the piece; and it is a part of the artistic process for me. The frames draw attention to themselves as being part of the drawing, or photograph, or whatever is within them. They add a leniency to the unity, for all of the pieces are in frames, but all of the frames are not the same. So, when I choose to present two pieces in the same frame, I can emphasize connections between certain pieces, all the while not breaking, or disrupting the connection between the series as a whole.

You started showing your work recently, has that changed the way that you think about what you do?

The first time I displayed my work was this past summer at “Are Gallery.” Nerves and anxieties aside, the experience was incredible. Each time I show my art I have friends and strangers share with me their own interpretations, and understandings of each piece. Often others notice details, and relevant ideas that I had not even noticed upon creation — nor did I consciously intend them.

Has studying film theory informed the way you take photographs?

Unconscious intentions are possibly the most important element of art. As an undergrad in Cinema studies we are taught to heavily analyze, and seek out these very unconscious elements in films. Further, we are encouraged to relate these elements to much broader concepts, as well as our own ideas. This approach to film studies has influenced how I see my art after its completion. I mentioned already that I often do not have a fully developed ‘why’ force that drives me to create a piece. Theorizing, and understanding art, I have learned, occurs in its richest form after the fact, after it has been completed, and after more than my own eyes have tried to dissect it.

Be sure to check out Beth’s Tumblr for more of her work.

If you are a student or alum of UofT and would like to take advantage of our weekly profile series to get your work seen, please send a few jpegs or a link to your work to this email address.

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