The Southern Glossary Instagram account is curated by a new artist or photographer each week. Every curator will put their own spin on the account, showing off work, their process, and their surroundings. Here's a Q&A with last week's curator, painter and photographer Mary Addison Hackett.
How did you interest in your medium begin?
My first camera was a Diana knock-off I received when I was six or seven, along with a photo album. I took portraits of stuffed animals, my pets, clock radios— pretty much the same mundane things I look at now. After moving to Chicago, I started looking at architecture and industrial landscapes in my neighborhood, and found someone to teach me how to print in the darkroom. I am also a painter but by the time I received my MFA I was invested in personal narrative and documentary video, followed by more years of painting and observing. It’s only since moving back south have I become obsessed with photography again. There’s a sense of urgency inherent in the medium and it’s efficient. I also inherited a few thousand vernacular slides taken by various members of my family. My grandfather was a photo engraver for the Atlanta Journal and my great-grandfather was a photographer by trade. I didn't know either of them, but picking up a camera again felt like a natural progression for my work.
How do you feel about the relationship of an artist to their city or surroundings?
It's a vital part of my work. I’ve lived in three different cities and I've always made art in response to my surroundings. Since 2009, I've been working on a project photographing and painting objects and spaces in and around my home. I love the solitude, but the isolation can a bit much. Part of my renewed passion for photography has to do with going out and actively engaging with my surroundings and the community beyond the confines of my home and studio. I'm also excited by the directions I'm seeing in photography here in the south. My current motto is a quote by Philip Seymour Hoffman: “The past is not done with you because you can’t get rid of it.”
Do you have a creative or artistic peer group in your area that you're a part of? What opportunities are there for artists like yourself?
Before moving back to Nashville, I spent a decade each in Chicago and Los Angeles with supportive peer groups in both cities. It was, and sometimes is, challenging to find a new peer group at this time in my life. It’s taken a few years, but I’ve slowly been meeting some of the artists and photographers whose work I respect who are working in Nashville. There are a few in particular who’s support has meant the world to me and I’m on a road trip to PhotoNOLA with one of them now. If I start naming names, I’ll leave someone out, but I’m extremely appreciative to everyone who’s been supportive and welcomed me. I’m also looking beyond my immediate city for a sense of community, which I why I’m headed to New Orleans for the weekend.
As far as opportunities go, there are only so many exhibition spaces and opportunities for artists working locally. Dane Carder brought me on board with David Lusk Gallery when the gallery opened a location in Nashville this year, and within the last several months, a couple of artist-run and commercial spaces opened their doors. The more spaces that support artists who have chosen to live and work in Nashville, the better it will be for the city and the morale of artists as a whole. Critical art can be marketable and vice versa, but visibility beyond your peer group and how that relates to the art market is still something of an enigma here. Having said that, I'm also getting back to my DIY roots in order to create some new opportunities outside the traditional structure.
Where do you go to draw inspiration?
I've always felt fortunate that I don't have to go far for inspiration, no matter where I'm living. In grad school I worked on projects that intertwined my art with my life and this principle has been the foundation for all my art, and of course, my life as well. When I moved back to Nashville, I moved into my former childhood home under difficult circumstances and I'm grateful for this opportunity. It's provided me with a tremendous amount of source material and continues to lead me in new directions. I'm also inspired by the work of other artists, literature, and ordinary stuff I see every moment of the day. At times I'm conflicted about being in the south. I have insider/outsider issues. This too provides me with inspiration.
Do you feel creatively satisfied?
Embarrassingly so. See above. I tend to do my best work when I am not too polished. Part of my M.O. is exploring ideas that may or may not work out. It's always a risk, but I like the challenge. I'm in a good place right now to explore some new directions and that makes me happy.
Tell me about a recent, current, or upcoming project or exhibition.
This past October, I had a solo show of paintings at David Lusk Gallery in Nashville, and in 2015, I’m in a group exhibition at the Customs House Museum. I have two works-in-progress documenting sense of place and day-to-day life. In one I examine family history though the objects and spaces around my home, while in the other I go on the road to explore everyday moments with a democratic eye.