JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
ALYSON BOWEN: Growing up I had wanted to be a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. It was a wild dream inspired by my hospital visits and the surgeon who corrected my spine. He was constantly putting his effort into innovative ways to improve the lives of others. I found it fascinating and admirable. It wasn’t until my high school years that I decided I wanted to pursue art in some form or another. It was also in high school that I realized I wanted to teach.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
AB: I have been finding a great deal of inspiration through collective efforts lately. I am lucky to be surrounded by artists who are constantly working and seeking collaboration. My peers fuel my fire constantly. I have also been following and contributing to the efforts of several blogs/zines in which I gain a great deal of inspiration from. Here are few links to my current favourites: If You Leave, Stay Young Zine, Lensblr.
JC: What are you up to right now?
AB: I am spending my summer with the local newspaper, interning with their photography department. It has been a huge learning experience. The paper only has five staff photographers, so they are spread pretty thin. I chose to apply for the internship as a result of a recent critique I received at the Society for Photographic Education’s national conference in Baltimore. The critique was of a handful of my street images and a series I am continually working on of the local flea & farmers market. It was said this work was my weakest. Actually, I received some pretty harsh criticism from one of the reviewers. It was hard to swallow at first, especially when you have spent so much time working on something. After I sat and considered everything that was discussed, I saw it as a challenge to improve and grow.
I am also working on a photo-a-day project using Fuji Instax wide film. You can view the progress on my flickr here.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
AB: I can’t say I have had any official mentors. My high school journalism teacher was a huge influence in my desire to be an educator. She is one of the most inspirational women in my life. During my college career I had the pleasure of working under Laine Wyatt. She is an extraordinary woman from whom I have gained a great deal of insight as to what I want to say with my images. Her guidance and support throughout my senior year is something I will always cherish.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
AB: I am currently living and working in Daytona Beach, Florida. While I was not born here, this is the city I grew up in. Everything here is familiar and safe in a sense. At times I find myself feeling stagnant, and I fear those moments show through my work. There is a lack of culture and opportunity in this town. The world knows it as a tourist-driven city, “the worlds most famous beach”. I know it as home, not by choice but by proximity. I don’t know anything except Daytona Beach as this is the only place I have burnt so deeply into my memory. Every inch of my growth, as a woman, as an artist, has been from this dirt. This all must sound so negative. It isn’t all there is here. We have managed to established community through our common interests and dreams somewhere amongst the rubble. The truth is I am hungry for something new. I want to continue to learn, to grow, and I know in order to do so I need to feed that hunger.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
AB: Shoot weddings and pay off your debt! But seriously, put yourself out there. Fight for what drives you, what you love. Find someone you want to work with, whether it is interning or assisting, and don’t be afraid to reach out to him/her/them. Think of your scholastic experience as your potential energy, stored away waiting to be released, and your newfound graduate status as your kinetic energy. Put yourself out there and see what you can attract. Trust your instincts.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
AB: Gosh. I know I want to apply to grad school and teach at some point. Overall, I want to find a space to do more than just exist. I want to find a city that speaks to me and find a way to be productive and happy there. I guess my plan B is to find a way to keep moving in a world that is constantly trying to create a standstill. I know I have some traveling to do. Can that just be my plan B?
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
AB: It is extremely important to me to remain an active part of a creative community. There are so many outlets available through your local art scenes and the World Wide Web. Especially being out of school, it is nice to find a place to receive feedback on your work and to be able to discuss concepts and project goals. If something doesn’t exist near you, create it!