Hump Day Hot Seat: Ali Smith

photo
© Ali Smith

Today is a bit of a Wednesday Rewind too! You might remember NYC-based photographer, Ali Smith, when she was previously featured on .stART here. in Fresh Friday Finds and a Hump Day Hot Seat in 2013. Find out what she’s been up to lately as she answers questions provided by Finch & Ada once more here. Be sure to check out Ali Smith’s MOMMA LOVE photo book and follow her on Twitter and Instagram too!

1. Who are you?

That is deep, my friend. Still not sure. Thus far, I am a photographer. Musician. I stand around 5’9″. I have started moisturizing because I’m noticing fine lines. I’m happy to be a mom and a wife.

2. What do you do?

Take pictures and try to make a statement.

3. When/Where/How did you get your start?

I started as a touring,  recording musician.  I took pictures of everything and everyone around me which involved a lot of craziness and black clothing. After years of touring, I craved more female connection because touring and playing music is largely about vans, sweat and men everywhere. Once I decided I wanted more female connections in my life, I reached out to artists who’d inspired me- Alice Walker, Exene Cervenka, Sandra Bernhard, Mary Karr, 35 in total- photographed and interviewed them, and that became my first book, Laws of the Bandit Queens.

4. How long have you been at it?

I’ve been at it since college and since I was touring, so early 20’s, but I haven’t had to do any other type of work besides photography for 15 years or so.

5. What is the most important thing we should know about you?

That I was never a drug addict ( my least favorite public myth about me from my music days). In fact, I never did any drugs. Not preaching, just setting the record straight.

6. Is there anyone else in your field that you particularly admire?

Donna Ferrato, Amy Arbus, Diane Arbus, Martin Parr, William Egglesteen, Paolo Roversi, Alec Soth, Joshua Bright, Bob Carey, Cig Harvey, Cristina De Middel, and Jennifer McClure.

7. What other types of art are you in to?

I recently saw some paintings from students who were really into and adept at photo realism. After years of being surrounded by high concept and modern art, I was taken aback at how incredible realism can be in painting. How stunning. Right now, I’m into that. But I appreciate all manner of art, as long as I feel I’m not being conned by someone with a budget and no ideas. Ideas are queen.

8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents?

Talk to me in ten years when my son is 14, and I have time for hobbies again. That said, I like to get crafty with my bad self and make all sorts of things- chocolate, soft toys, models of volcanoes that work.

9. What’s your favorite vice?

Whiskey is my favorite vice. Also crap TV.

10. How do you make it over the creative hump?

Forge ahead. Like a Sherpa. Up that hill. With breaks built in to catch your breath. (the breaks are a new idea for me, but definitely smart)

11. You eat food? What kind? Like to cook?

I do. Anything that has the letter “r” in its name. I like my husband to cook.

12. Tell me about the last time a project blew up in your face?

Thank GOD that hasn’t happened often at all, but now that you’ve made me say it out loud, it will. THANKS A LOT, BERNADETTE! But really, honestly, it has only happened when I have compromised too much and let peoples’ worry and micromanaging win out. Then the product turns out lame. 

13. Truth or Dare? Elaborate.

Truth. Because I am not the type to run naked to the mailbox and back on a dare.

14. What is your most prized possession?

Can my child be a possession? If not, then my husband.

Advertisements

Hump Day Hot Seat: Ali Smith

Fresh Friday Finds alum Ali Smith is in today’s Hump Day Hot Seat on .stART here. Don’t forget to show your support for her newest project, Momma Loves; How the Mother Half Live, over on Kickstarter! With any level of donation, you could win a “Momma Love” gold necklace like the one Smith is wearing below. Thanks for stopping by today, Ali!

AliSmith

1. Who Are You? 

I am woman, hear me roar. A.K.A. Ali Smith

2. What do you do? 

I take pictures mainly.

3. When/Where/How did you get your start?

I’ve been taking pictures since I can remember. As a youngin’ I played music in bands – mainly punk bands- and toured around the world a lot. I was really excited by how Pennie Smith’s photographs had defined the legacy of The Clash and wanted to do the same for my music scene which was the New York City music scene of the early 90’s. There was a lot going on. At the start, I couldn’t afford a good camera, so the ratio of good to crap photos was often stacked against me. But the feel was there and so was my love for it. So I just did it and did it until people saw that I wasn’t going to stop doing it and they began to pay me.

4. How long have you been at it?

I would say I’ve been making a solid living at photography for about15 years, but photography has been a regular part of my life since I was about 18. In my mid-20’s, I would get paid gigs but had to do a ton of other jobs, like bartend, to make a living. But even when I was bar-tending during the day at a local bar, I was taking pictures of the old men I’d serve, some of whom had been regulars there for 40 years.

5. What is the most important thing we should know about you?

It’s that I’m very, VERY important! And that I’m kidding. Um… maybe that I consider myself really fortunate to do what I love for a living. And that I consistently strive to find a balance between causes I care passionately about and what I do for money. I try to blend the two as much as possible and when I can’t, I strive for balance.

6. Is there anyone else in your field that you particularly admire?

Donna Ferrato exemplifies bravery and vulnerability as a photographer. Her documentation of domestic violence with her classic book, Living with the Enemy, is rivaled by none. In her 50’s, she is unapologetic as she continues to pursue controversial subjects she cares about. I also really like fashion photographer Paolo Roversi whose work is always so beautiful and painterly.

7. What other types of art are you in to?

I love anything tiled. If I could tile an entire house, I would. I love tiles.

Cute, scribbly illustration that is filled with hand hewn thin lined drawings of deer and mushrooms and such. You know, the type they’d half make fun of / half love on “Portlandia”.

I am open and receptive to many medium. It’s not the medium so much as whether or not I respond to it emotionally.

I like the Richard Prince Nurse paintings a lot.

I love Cat Power and PJ Harvey. They’re great artists.

I can tell you what I do NOT respond to. Artists I see as pure arrogant like Mathew Barney. When I look at his art, the first thing I think is “Wow! This guy has a lot of money.” That is not very interesting to me. I like heart and soul.


8. You got any crazy hobbies or unique talents?

Not really, unless you consider collecting fingernail clippings to make a nest out of some day CRAZY!? It’s all about your point of view, I suppose.

I take pictures and I play music and I raise a kid.


9. What’s your favorite vice?

My favorite vice that I do NOT have is dancing on tables (although I’ve done it once). I like women who dance on tables. Not strippers. Exuberant women who dance unabashedly and not for money on tabletops when the mood hits.

My favorite vice that I do have is chocolate. The form or occasion is not important.

10. How do you make it over the creative hump?

I am trying to learn to take a step back and refresh myself- my eyes, my mind… that would be the best way. So far, though, to be honest, I push forward with great stress and concentration until I pop through. I just sort of push and slog and push.

If it’s at a shoot and I can’t figure out how to get the shot, I sort of blur my vision and take in the whole scene and sort of add it up in my mind- this would equal that and look like that and mean this and represent that…. I can only think of a coupe of times in recent history that I really flubbed it and came away stumped. They were always on personal shoots that meant a great deal to me. Maybe I choked.

1
1. You eat food? What kind? Like to cook?

Yes. I do eat food. As for cooking, I REALLY like having a husband that is an amazing chef because I think my real strength lies in how well I EAT rather than cook!

My culinary tastes are broad but excludes baby animals.

12. If someone was to write a craigslist missed connection about you, 
what would it say?

Tall redhead with grey roots; I saw u sweating through ur shirt from anxiety at local Whole Foods.

13. What is your most prized possession?

I suppose I can’t call my son a possession, right?  Although he did cost me a lot of money! And I do make him sleep in a display case next to the Hummels.

For more on Ali’s latest project and to donate to her cause, visit her Kickstarter page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/270616936/momma-love-how-the-mother-half-lives-hardcover/posts.