New: Amy Eckert

Amy Eckert moved to Minneapolis about eight months ago. Amy had several loyal clients for her freelance work and a teaching gig at the School of Visual Arts, plus family ties and a strong sense of belonging in New York. But her husband got a job here, and they shared a sense of doing something adventurous by relocating. Freelancers don’t necessarily have to abandon clients, as long as there are airplanes and other modern devices to remain connected. Nonetheless, she was happy to find, through a contact, an assignment before they’d even opened the moving boxes in their apartment. That first assignment was shooting a calendar for “Minnesota Cooks,” a project for the Minnesota Farmers Union and Food Alliance Midwest; the agencies liked her work so much they hired her again for next year’s calendar.

Thus, she found herself auspiciously situated within the locavorian heart of Minnesota–no doubt many of us would like to be assisting her on these jobs–and she’s off and running. Ask her for dining recommendations. And check out her (soon to be updated) web site. She’s done some fine commercial work, and is what I’d call solidly early-mid-career as a photographic artist.

But I realized that the work she showed me during our conversation had a lot to do with domesticity, with having your feet on the ground in the place you’ve chosen. And, with the problems and issues connected to those choices. Relocating from New York to Minnesota is one type of choice, full of issues, that Amy is in the midst of exploring.

One residence-related project, called Manufacturing Home, is ready for publication. Amy’s going to FotoFest this month, and she asked me to give her some advice about bringing portfolios there. Is one better, or two? Or more? Old work, or new? She’d taken the book project to the Meeting Place before, and gotten some interest in the early iteration of the sequence. Now, it’s much more advanced, and Amy wants to get it situated and show her newer work, entitled Follies

I’m showing examples of Follies here, because I was greatly intrigued by them. They’re wry, smart, and very hand-made. They play with scale and detail. They add humor and texture to some of the very austere, Germanic interiors that have flowed across the screens of late. 

They reference works seen before (by Wendel A. White, who I wrote about earlier on this blog, for one; Beate Gutschow, John Baldessari, and Jayna Conkey are others) but strike out in their own direction as statements about figure and ground, landscape, symbolic notions of home as castle, and home as personal space. Click on these reproductions to get them as large as possible; look at the seams, which are actual cuts creating windows or layers in collages that aren’t much larger (or smaller, depending) than the screen you’re viewing them on.

Here’s Amy’s statement about the new work:

If houses can be said to have personalities, who’s to say they don’t have longings, imaginations, inner lives? In architecture, a folly is an extravagant, useless, or fanciful building, or one that appears to be something other than what it is. In their book Follies, Grottoes & Garden Buildings, Headley & Meulenkamp define a folly as a “misunderstood building.”

In this collage series I combine my own images with pictures from architecture books and manufacturers’ catalogues. By removing the house from a picture, I get  to fill up that void with my own extravagant, useless, or fanciful ideas. I like to play around with the reliable stability of architectural space and confuse inside with outside, shelter with storm.

Having just written about Jenny Jenkins, an old acquaintance, I thought it’d be good to write about a new one. Welcome to Minnesota, Amy. I hope the midwestern adventure is rewarding.

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