Alison Scarpulla

Tuesday, 29 November 2011










I emailed the photographer, Alison Scarpulla, about a week ago to ask her permission to feature some of her photographs here. She very kindly said yes (thanks Alison). I always feel like I have to explain why I appreciate a particular photographer's work when asking their permission, because I know from my own experience how hard it is to send a creative piece into the world and hear only silence.

I've seen Alison's work on tumblr numerous times. Each time, it made me pause and appreciate the skill and beauty of her images. There's a tendency to get carried away on tumblr, to kind of rampantly consume and re-blog images without actually bothering to examine them closer. I admit, I'm guilty of this. But Alison's images made me stop, and I'll tell you why: they always bring back flooding memories of the feelings I had when writing my first undergraduate essay on Romanticism. I know this doesn't sound terribly exciting, but to me it was. I was fascinated by the idea that poetic form and fantastical imagery constituted a type of revolution in the arts (and by extension, a political revolution in culture). It seems such a foreign idea to us today, to think of something like poetry or art being a "revolution". But that's what it was, and the significance that was placed on the arts as a whole is something of which I'm reminded whenever I stumble upon Alison's photography.

I go through cycles where I'm immensely enthused by the level of creativity I see around me in all arts forms in contemporary culture, to being deeply saddened and discouraged by the extent to which the arts as a whole is undervalued, underfunded and under-debated these days. You only have to look at how arts and humanities departments in universities around the world are being evaluated via quantitative rather that qualitative standards, with the result of slashed or non-existent funding. It's like a bean-counting approach to the study of the arts, which is rather unproductive in my opinion.

So you know, I think it's important to talk about creativity wherever we can find it: tumblr, blogs, websites, magazines, in a living room at a party. We shouldn't rely on official institutions alone, which are increasingly governed by bigger financial concerns. To me this is what's so nice about tumblr, despite the excessive consuming of images. But please, if you ever re-blog any of Alison's beautiful images, for the love of art, give her credit. The same goes for every other uncredited photographer's work I've seen on tumblr.

To see more of Alison's work visit her website, flickr and shop. Thanks again, Alison.


Rambling Tart said...

Thank you for posting these gorgeous images and your thoughts on the arts. I love your notion of not relying on official institutions for our love and support of creativity. These pictures are wonderful - emotive, peaceful, thought-provoking.

Nancy Baric *negfilm said...

really quite oneiric !!

nancy said...

beautiful photos - emotive only begins to describe them. thank you for your opinion as well :)

Sally said...

Oh I love her work, thanks for reminding me to prowl back through her flickr stream. I could use some magic today. :)

Tana said...

you are not the only one who can watch and be amazed by the photos,alison`s creativity,her vision. very beautiful!

Sasha said...

I have loved her work for quite some time. I didn't discover her through tumblr and for this I'm glad. Everything you've said about how mindless consumption kind of reigns supreme is spot on as far as that blogging platform is concerned (I really do love tumblr though). Viewing Alison's work outside of that kind of hectic atmosphere allowed me to engage more fully (and continue to go back again and again). Her work is absolutely astounding and I find inspiring when I'm in particularly unproductive creative patches.

I also wanted to tell you that the NASA images I featured on my blog...well I found them via your tumblr! I saw them and was mesmerized. Again, you find absolutely amazing things. :)

Naomi Bulger said...

These photographs are glorious. Glorious. I'm so glad you shared them, and I am going to explore more on Alison. I think your blog is just the most beautiful thing on the Internet.

Petra said...

I love her work, and much like you I have noticed her numerous times before. I'm also guilty of slightly mindless image consumerism on tumblr, and on many other websites. I've still not decided what to think about these phenomena, that art on the one hand seems to be less and less valued, but that there seems to be this huge demand for something that is more than just pretty pictures and things on the other hand...

Suzy said...

The photographs are amazing!!! :)

Niina said...

You brought up an interesting contradiction in consuming images versus giving value to art. This has been puzzling me for years and sometimes I am dreading where all this is heading. I don´t seem very radical but every now and then I resort to Debord´s Society of the Spectacle when thinking about questions of image and content and the consumption of images.

B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B said...

These photographs are stunning. Sometimes, I wonder about how strange and magnificent it would be to live during the Romantic movement. It seems like a world away from the creative industry we live in today. But if we could instill the importance of creativity into the youth, with the help of education, government and media coverage, we could raise the future’s appreciation of the arts and perhaps even make our way back into a “golden era” of creativity. I don't believe it's impossible, although perhaps unlikely.

Maša said...

I think we're all "guilty" of image consumerism and it is hard to avoid it if you are a member of a western society. for me it happens the same with other artistic representations, music, books, movies etc. sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't have enough time in the world to listen to all amazing albums, read all masterpieces, watch all cult movies and so on. the same as I cannot absorb much of information that is floating in cyber space or read all of the blogs I like.

however, these photographs are divine. you always share wonderful works of art. :)

btw, have you seen "desperate romantics" mini series? I loved it.

Monica said...

i've seen her photos before via pinterest i think. i also find them wonderful. something secretive, hidden, both excites and creeps me out.

the last poetic-cultural revolution i can think of was with rap.

drives me insane when the first cuts are in the humanities - museums and libraries are the first to go in the uk cities.

naomemandeflores said...

I believe I've seen some of her photos, uncredited, via tumblr. Thanks for letting us know who is the talent behind them.

Camila Faria

Becca said...

Her work is stunning, and I enjoyed your accompanying insight on contemporary internet art culture. I get excited (and overwhelmed) by all the beautiful things I see online everyday. It's important to stop and appreciate how easy it is for us to view.

Kristina said...

Wow, the pictures are beautiful! Right out of a fairytale, so dreamy and unreal almost!!

gracia said...

Hear, hear, Hila! I'm for all of the above. The bean-counting approach to the study of the arts is rather unproductive, I agree. As someone who teaches painting to students who study via distance education, this feels all too true.

g xo

Sarah Morgan said...

Alison's images -- and your words -- are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for being a champion, creator, and supporter of the arts!

hila said...

rambling tart: that's why the existence of blogs is so great :)

nancy: yes! that's a perfect way of putting it.

nancy: my pleasure.

tana: she's pretty amazing!

sasha: well, I found the NASA images through another blog, so we're sort of enacting the greatness that is blogging, ha! Tumblr does make me feel a bit frenzied and hectic too, although I do love it and the things that you can discover there. I just wish there wasn't so much saturation of mindless consumption.

naomi: why thank you! I'm quite flattered :)

petra: I think we're all guilty of it really, and I certainly don't mean to make anyone feel bad. I just think sometimes we need to pull back from it all and appreciate things on a deeper level. Each to his or her own, though.

suzy: aren't they just!

niina: yes, I wonder when it'll all end too, especially the vile form of celebrity consumption (do they really have to be on the news all the time?).

b.: well, it was probably difficult living back then too, every era has its problems. I guess what fascinates me about the Romantics is the importance they placed on art, something which is lacking today. I still wouldn't like to live in that period, as a woman :)

masa: yes, we're all pretty much in the same boat, and it's hard to escape it.

I have seen the desperate romantics mini-series, it was fun to watch, but so inaccurate!

monica: they are the first to go in every western country these days. It sucks.

I have to confess, I really don't like rap music. I appreciate the skill and wordplay involved with it, but so much of it is just horrifyingly misogynistic, it turns my stomach to listen to it.

camila: yes, I've seen them uncredited on tumblr too. Even worse, I've seen bloggers on tumblr credit themselves with her images, as if they were the ones who created them simply because they uploaded the pictures. So silly, and very rude.

becca: that's just the thing, we have so much access to view and appreciate all types of art, but more often than not, we just pin them to an inspiration board and think no more about them. That's sad.

kristina: they definitely have a fairy tale vibe going.

gracia: as someone familiar with how universities operate, it also feels all too true. and a bit depressing too.

sarah morgan: I really hope that's what I am, or will be one day!

Kill The Cat said...

I love all of these! Wow!! I've never seen these on tumblr. Thanks to you! ;)

Sundari said...

I love her work! I have been a fan for a while and have been in awe of her amazing use of colour and light.

The reference you made to romanticism is really interesting. I am always so interested to learn more, and I can only hope to convey that sense of wonder and visual poetry in my own work.

Great post as always

Maša said...

it was that much inaccurate? I don't have enough knowledge to comment on that although there were some things I remembered to be different (from watching one documentary) and some were clearly used for the purpose of entertainment. do you remember what was inaccurate? however, I enjoyed the series very much!

hila said...

kill the cat: glad you like them.

sundari: I think you're definitely on your way to portraying this romanticism in your own work.

masa: it just took great liberties with their lives. It was fun entertainment though.

andrea despot said...

Here! Here! It's really so freaking easy to credit someone's work and I can't for the life of me understand why so many people don't. I wish more people understood the importance of it, rather than just being lazy and ignorant.

And thanks for featuring Allison (and for crediting her, of course). I've been a fan of hers for awhile and was so happy to see her on your blog. Definitely a well-deserved place :)

hila said...

andrea: it can be hard to track down the original sources sometimes, which makes me even more annoyed that a particular image wasn't just credited in the first place.