Tuesday, November 29, 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.