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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Joseph Hartman, Clare Vander Meersch, and Kim Keever

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Joseph Hartman's #WFH set-up

Joseph Hartman's #WFH set-up

FF/QQ 6 catches up with photographers Joseph Hartman and Kim Keever, as well as Clare Vander Meersch, founding board member of The Magenta Foundation and Photo Editor/Presentation Team for The Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper. 

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

JOSEPH HARTMAN, artist (@jhartmanphoto)

A photograph of artist Kent Monkman's studio, by Joseph Hartman

Kent Monkman, 2014, by Joseph Hartman

Craig D'Arville: Tell us a bit about this photograph of Kent Monkman's studio. 

Joseph Hartman: This is a photograph of Kent Monkman's studio that I took in 2014 as part of The Artist's Studio project. One of the things I wanted to achieve with this project was to gain insight into each artist's creative process. With this in mind I arranged to come at a time when Kent had paintings in various stages of completion. I also came at the end of the day so that I could photograph the studio without Kent and his assistants being present, which allows the studio photo to act as a surrogate portrait of Kent. To get the final photograph I jammed myself into a corner and used a wide angle lens in order to fit as much as possible into the frame so that I could tell a story about Kent's creative process and about Kent himself. 

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your art practice?

JH: It has presented some unique challenges. My photographic work takes place out in the world so I have had to put my main projects on hold while the pandemic is happening. I also cannot access my studio as it is in a shared building, with many studios and businesses. I have been working from home, although that has been challenging as my 8-year-old daughter is also home. I've been doing some work on Instagram, not posting, more research for a possible future project. As much as I would like to be out photographing I don't feel that it is the right thing to do at the moment given the severity of the situation. We all just need to stay home and the more we stay inside and away form other people the sooner this will be over and we will be able to get back out into the world.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

JH: This has been difficult however I am staying in touch and supporting people through phone/video calls, emails and social media; getting in touch with friends and family and also trying to support artist friends who have had shows cancelled or postponed. 

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

JH: There are many, I couldn't narrow it down to one so here are three that I've been enjoying. The first is Brant Slomovic (@brantslomovic). He has been working on a photo book about Israel that has been postponed due to the coronavirus and he has been posting some of the photos from the book; they are great photographs. Another is Sara MacCulloch (@saramaccullochart) whose beautiful paintings have been a nice escape. To be honest though, the posts that I have been enjoying the most are from a friend from high school who has been posting the 50 things he is grateful for and I've found them to be very comforting and a good reminder to be grateful for all the wonderful things that we have. His name is Tyler Kealey (@tkealey).

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

JH: I've found that setting realistic goals about what I can accomplish during this time has been helpful. There are a lot of stories circulating about amazing things that people have accomplished throughout history during various quarantines. To be honest I think hearing those stories puts unrealistic expectations into people’s minds. I try and remind myself that if I get through the day without spreading the virus then it's been a good day! I also try and think about the people that we are doing this for: grandparents, immunocompromised people, etc., this is a pretty minor imposition to ask of us in order to help save lives. I'm less focused on my own goals and focusing on the societal goals of overcoming this virus. 

Shop FFOTO: Joseph Hartman

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KIM KEEVER, Artist (@kimkeever.art

Abstract 44065, by Kim KeeverAbstract 44065, 2018, by Kim Keever

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now?

Kim Keever: I just moved from Manhattan to Miami. I'm setting up my new live-in studio and apartment. It's a lot more than I bargained for but I have my 200-gallon aquarium just about ready to go so I can start some new artwork. I have a new project in mind. I live on the 12th floor with a great view of Biscayne Bay so I have been taking photos with my Hasselblad camera of the waves below. I'll try this as a backdrop and see what kind of results I get. I like to keep experimenting with new ideas.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

KK: I can't say it's really affecting my workflow aside from making it difficult to get things done that I can't do myself. I really feel like we are all in a gigantic science-fiction movie. Every day I hear new claims from the latest model suggesting we might be through the worst part and at the same time this might go on for another year. I accidentally sneezed in a Home Depot today and the guy about 6 feet away from me looked petrified for a moment. I assured him it was just a sneeze.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

KK: I've made some phone calls and I send text messages. It's one of the few ways we have left for each other to keep in touch and the loneliness makes it ever more so. I've spoken to a few artists I haven't been in touch with for some time. I'm glad to have made the effort.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

KK: I can't say I've been looking at art lately. There's just too many other concerns at the moment. I do enjoy it when other artist friends bring up an artist whose work I don't remember and I can quickly look it up on Google. I consider my cell phone the other half of my brain these days. Ultimately, I think we’re all a lot smarter than we used to be simply because it's so easy to learn more. I think I can call it "the old days" when you had to go to a library to find out information you couldn't readily get from family and friends or the books you owned.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

KK: It really depends on your state of mind before you knew about this whole scenario. I tend to spend most of my studio time alone and make an effort each day to go out and mix a little. Now I just don't mix at all and I must say it is a lot lonelier even if I didn't know the people milling about in Manhattan right next to me.

Shop FFOTO: Kim Keever

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CLARE VANDER MEERSCH, Photo Editor/Presentation Team at The Globe & Mail (@photo_editor_clare)

Clare Vander Meersch's #WFH selfie
Clare Vander Meersch's #WFH selfie

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now?

Clare Vander Meersch: As of Monday, April 6, I’m full time in the newsroom at The Globe & Mail as journalism has turned into all things Covid, all the time. The Report on Business Magazine has been put on hiatus for the next two issues at least. I’ll be overseeing photos for "big bet" weekend features.

 CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

CVM: The entire organization is working remotely. I think our publisher pretty much has the entire office to himself — barring a few essential support services there.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

CVM: My photo community is more important that ever. I’m looking to see how my contacts are documenting what is the largest story in a hundred years. I’ll be looking for new work around this all-consuming topic.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

CVM: Lorne Bridgman (@Lornebridgman_work) has a haunting new series around closed children’s playgrounds. Derek Shapton (@thunder_pino) showed me something on discarded bio waste that will run in the paper (link to article). Graduating Sheridan student Kyle Jeffers (@kylejeffers_) has a great shot called "Stay Inn: that made it to Lenscratch this week. It's an instant classic.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

CVM: Be thankful for what we have. I prefer to try and look on the bright side; we have a government showing great leadership through a really hard time. It’s not perfect. But things could always be a lot worse.

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