Summer is just about here. I know this because as soon as I publish this post, I’m going to hit tar beach, lay out in the sun, and soak up that good old Vitamin D. I’ve been thinking of summer as the full flush of rebirth, of a kind of freedom that comes from the completion of a cycle when it hits its heights. It is a time when we can be most alive, as Nature and the Universe intend us to be. It is a an energy that we feel when open the window and let the sun shine in. I was reminded of all of this as I perused Angela Boatwright’s website, newly relaunched and conceptualized as chapters from the pages of her life.
Miss Boatwright has graciously agreed to vibe with me on the work she has created for the pages of Summer, a few photographs featured here—and you best believe there is more where this came from!
Summer. It’s the season of full bloom, of when life is at its most alive, and the re is a freedom we feel to live out loud. Please talk about what summer means to you, about how it makes you feel…
I love the ability to go anywhere without a jacket, honestly. When I lived in NYC it would get so incredibly humid – you would go outside and see people barely wearing anything at all. I loved it. And everyone from everywhere would come to NYC in the summertime to visit. New York is the absolute best in the summer. The best.
Your Summer series is captivating. There is a feeling of energy, a vibrancy, a luxuriousness that I cannot fully articulate. Please talk about your inspiration to shoot this series. Where did it come from? What moves you to pursue it as a subject? How do you articulate this with these images?
The images were taken over a period of about 3 years. During that time I was honestly just hellbent on hanging out with my friends. I was working a lot but my friends were my priority, hands down. I would follow them around and do whatever they did, it was almost co-dependent. I absolutely adore every single person in those images. And we partied quite a bit and then at some point I quit drinking so the camera became my vice.
Miss Rosen: Where and when were these images shot? How does the time and place speak to your idea of Summer itself ?
Angela Boatwright: They were photographed between 2005 and 2008, mostly. A few shots were taken in 2011 and 2012. As for locations, I’ll flip through them right now – let’s see… ahh, there’s a lot of NYC/ Brooklyn and Rhode Island. There’s also Los Angeles, Connecticut, Albany and one shot taken in Orlando, Florida.
Summer to me is fairly obvious – swimming, camping, hanging out. Beer, too. Cigarettes and weed for some. I went to Rhode Island so, so many times during those years. And all those Rhode Island kids, they’re water babies so there was a lot of swimming and cliff jumping. And skateboarders are always free-spirited, photographing them is just so easy and fun. I can dissect it all in hindsight but again at the time I was just following my friends. I used the camera as a way to get to know them better. Everyone I photographed – I thought they were so incredibly cool in one way or another. I still do.
The photographs in this series appear to be of teens and young adults, those who have perhaps the greatest freedom of summer—two months off ! Please speak to this age, about how you were drawn to it, and how do you think it, itself, is a manifestation of Summer’s energy.
I didn’t come up with the idea to photograph summertime beforehand. It was simply what I was doing at the time. When I was putting together images for my website I came up with the title ‘Summer’ to showcase all of that particular work. And it’s very appropriate!
If I were to analyze it now I would say that I desperately needed to understand the concept of ‘freedom’ and was therefore attracted to the people in my life that could afford it. I was having a hard time un-crossing all the live wires left over from my adolescence. And while I was photographing the ‘Summer’ series I was also documenting heavy metal bands on tour, all over the world. It’s only in the past year or so that I’ve started to settle down, so to speak.
I love talking about photography, about the ephemeral made eternal, about three dimensions flattened into two, about how we are becoming an increasingly visually literate society. Please talk about the way in which the photograph preserves the moment, perhaps not only preserving it but translating it into something that is at once a mirror of the world and a new means to consider it.
Personally, it’s hard for me to actively think about my work while I’m creating it, it’s probably that way for many artists, so I need to trust my gut. Preparation is key but once I begin I get completely k-holed into my experience. You do need perspective and a general understanding of what’s happening around you. If you can combine raw emotion with that perspective and a basic understanding of your surroundings then you’re really onto something.
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