Briefly describe the work you do.
I work in a variety of photographic mediums to create commentary on what a photograph is and how we use it to define parts of ourselves in the modern world. My work started digitally and has slowly been working into more traditional photographic mediums. I am currently working on a project using large format photography, dry plate collodion or tintypes and cyanotypes.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I come from a small town where the high school offered two art classes which had very little interaction with photography. As such I had no interaction with art until my senior year in high school when I picked up a camera for the first time. I never imagined I would be an artist and I think this has helped me in a lot of ways because it means I have a looser definition of what art is and how to approach it.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I think photography is unique in that the use of a studio depends on what you are trying to accomplish and what mediums you are working in. My personal use of a studio is quite the same. I have done series using instant film which means I need very little equipment and could accomplish what I want to accomplish practically anywhere, but I have also worked in processes such as large format photography or dry plate collodion which both require access to specific spaces and equipment to have successful results. I think that being in the studio is somewhat different for photographers in that the process dictates the necessary spaces. But I think there is a beauty in that as well. No matter what you have access to there is definitely a photographic process you can accomplish.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I think that the role of the artist itself is one I never envisioned. I started making art without calling it that in the least. There is a tendency with photography to discredit those starting out who are trying to be “artists”, as everyone can pick up a camera and achieve favorable results. I would read things starting out and hear so much criticism leveled towards beginners because that it took almost four years into my art making processes for me to start identifying as an artist. Even in an academic level I still hear a distinction made between photography and art, and as such its a hard thing to find your voice in and not get discredited from.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Being in an academic setting I am lucky in that I am forced to make time for art. Having to produce work at such a rate has formed how I live my life. Even during breaks or time when I don’t need to be meeting deadlines I am still creating, because it is just the natural way I express myself now and I couldn’t envision my life without it. That being said I usually am in the studio working late at night. I am somewhat of a night owl I guess and a darkroom is always dark so its actually somewhat less disorienting to work at night.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
My work has changed in every way imaginable in the last five years. Five years ago I wanted to be a fashion photographer and I never would have dreamed to call myself an artist. Now I have no other way to identify myself than artist. Its odd how five years can really change the core of your being. My work is now being shown on a national level and I am branching out of just photography into metal work, book arts and installation pieces. I think that my work is the same in that I am still using it to explore parts of myself, I just dig a lot deeper and more conceptually now than when I was starting out.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Of course. It depends on the project how direct that impact is. I think that everything has an impact on the work I create. Every interaction I have shapes me and as such it is reflected in the work I do. Right now I am working in found photographs from my childhood and I am layering them with writing I have from cards and letters I have gotten from my parents at pivotal moments in my life and the project is almost completely informed by the idea of family.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I definitely have. I almost became a real estate agent, a psychology major, a carpenter and even a college dropout. There is such an aversion to majoring in art that I went through a lot of soul searching and half brained plans to try and find something that would make me as happy and fulfilled as art. Ultimately I believe I made the right decision.
Jeremiah Morris is a fine art photographer from Harrisonburg, Virginia. Currently he is a December 2015 Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate at James Madison University. His current work is interested in pushing the boundaries of what one would consider “photography” and works to examine how we define things such as person, place, time and self in the modern world and how the photograph plays a role in that definition. He intends to pursue an MFA in photography.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.