Feminine Architecture, a collaboration between self-taught California based artists Haley Golden and Nora Lowinsky is a testament to their friendship and its role in nurturing the growth of their individual and complementary vision since meeting two years ago. It is more broadly a celebration of women supporting one another in the arts with the hope of building a community for female voices.
The displayed works are linked by a subtle but unmistakable sisterhood, yet each artist’s distinct style shines through. Haley’s selections reveal a sensitivity to the spontaneous theater of her surroundings. She finds her images waiting pre-composed out in the world, which gives them the feeling of being both surprising and inevitable. Her urban photographs uncover the many dramas, sometimes felt but rarely seen, of the visual elements that scaffold urban life. Plants achieve an almost human luster. She captures them detached and serene as a classical painting or flustered and fabulous like a sidewalk fashionista. Her landscapes are cinematic and spacious, but never absent of the humor that underlies her entire body of work. Through them all, her images convey a striking range of emotion in the world of the inanimate.
In harmony with Haley’s abstractions, Nora’s chosen works explores the divine feminine through portraiture. She intuitively experiments with expired 35mm color film and hand prints her own silver gelatin black and white photographs traditionally in the darkroom. Her portraits tell an unfolding love story with analog photography and a journey of self-exploration and catharsis through the female muse. Nora’s use of unpredictable analog materials as well as her improvisation with her subjects in open environments reveal an act of surrender to the universe. Her art direction is spontaneous by design, revealing ethereal representations of feminine energy to address the collective unconscious of the subliminal woman.
We decided to ask some questions to Haley and Nora to know more about their work together.
Giangiacomo Cirla: Hello girls, thanks for this interview, can you talk a bit about Feminine Architecture?
GC: What are the common points between your works?
NL: Very basically, our relationship as friends in the arts and the expansion of our oneness, hand in hand with our own personal artistic development, is the biggest commonality between our exhibited works and the main reason for our pairing. Our evolution over the last two years has been parallel, partially due to circumstances within our control (we steadily encouraged the other) and also somewhat serendipitously. We have been blessed to have each other. Apart from our closeness, we share a special connection to the earth and the natural world. Haley and I both possess a voyeuristic eye- our approach to our individual subjects feels kindred. We also each have a torrid love for color photography.
GC: What are your main interests as an artist?
HG: Honestly, I am just starting to feel comfortable with that label. I simply want to continue making work that makes me feel proud. To create and share my photographs in a serious way has been incredibly satisfying. Many people think about making art, but to actually do it and integrate it into your life is somewhat of a miracle. If I can just stay productive and continue to challenge myself, that would be enough for me. Beyond that, I hope to build community and support others who are creative to do the same.
NL: My main interest is to let it out. I don’t know what “it” is half the time. I would like to share something intimate. In my recent work, I take portraits of women, which has to do with capturing something core about myself. Coming from a personal place is universal if there is just one person who identifies with what you’re trying to say.
GC: What are the main factors that influence your photography?
HG: I am most inspired by my environment, specifically the unintended arrangement of my environment. I love seeing human infrastructure and nature stripped down to their basics – color, texture, pattern and light, and the interplay/layering of these. I am inspired by the mundane, those moments and things most people don’t care to notice. I look for the hidden story and humor that unfolds in these everyday scenes. Often, the inanimate have human traits and personalities of their own. My influences are everywhere and in all things. I am motivated by how astounding it is that anything exists at all and that we are lucky enough to be here to experience it.
NL: Energy, chance, synchronicity, Mother Nature, my mood (aka perspective)
GC: How do you hope viewers will react to your works?
GC: Who are some of your favorite contemporary photographers?
NL: Ana Mendieta, who is not a photographer, but a multidisciplinary artist, just inspired me recently with a series of her photographs shot in Cuba in the 1970s. Her spiritual connection to the earth as a woman resonates with me. Lina Scheynius comes to mind right now, whose work feels intimate, like she’s sharing a secret without telling it all, keeping you intrigued and wanting to know more. I like what Jordan Sullivan is doing- printing his beautiful rainbow color photography on textiles. Fine art photography seems kind of stuck. There are such limited printmaking options because few people make their own analog prints anymore. I love how he just solved that obstacle by doing his own thing. I also admire how he liberated his photography from two dimensionality.
GC: What is your usual equipment?
HG: I gotta admit I’m not really an “equipment” person. I believe that anyone can take a brilliant photo with whatever they have at their disposal – be it an iPhone or a Holga. It’s all about your ability to see. Luckily, I was equipped with a good eye and I am an observer at heart. Even though I loathe gear talk, I must say that I love gushing over my baby. She is a Sony A7R with a newly purchased 55mm F1.8 Carl Zeiss lens. It’s such a beautiful camera – it’s so light and unassuming. I really dislike using big, clunky equipment. I am a small person and don’t like to attract too much attention to myself. Before, I had a much bigger Canon DSLR and it felt like a burden – It did not inspire me. My camera now feels like an extension of my body, it feels so natural when I’m using it. I also adore that it has the feel of an old school 35mm. Although I mainly work in digital right now, I have dabbled in film and want to return to it. In the Spring, I am going to be taking a class with Nora where we will learn how to develop color film and I can’t wait. Eventually, I would like to purchase a medium or large format camera.
NL: I need to premise this answer by saying that your tools should not define your message. What equipment you use is pretty irrelevant. Having said that, I am not a gear head. I don’t even own a tripod. I use very little- a small Contax T3, essentially a point and shoot film camera. I usually just shoot with that and I’ll sometimes pair it with an analog Canon camera with a 50mm lens that doesn’t belong to me. It’s on permanent loan from a good friend. If I forgot my camera at home, I’ll just buy a disposable one. Film excites me for now, so I stick to creating my images using analog cameras and printmaking in the darkroom. I fuck with old expired film. Sometimes it fucks with me and I get a roll back blank. That is part of the pleasure for me- the unexpected, highly metaphoric for life and its many surprises. I love the surrender aspect of analog. I also don’t want to be reliant on any formula and I don’t want to be monogamous with one medium forever.
GC: What are your plans for the future?
HG: Right now, I am just trying to get through every week. The political climate is taking its toll on me and it has been difficult to go back to my creative routine. My camera has been seriously neglected. Something that will enable me to get out of this slump is another collaborative project with Nora that has just started. I don’t want to say too much about it, but that will be coming out in March. Other than that, more travel! I have been trying to coax my boyfriend into taking an extended trip so we can visit EVERY national park in the US. I have always secretly wanted to be a park ranger or field biologist. I would love to use my camera as a means to explore that desire. More long term, maybe I’ll go back to school or open a shop/gallery. I fantasize about having a curated space of my own where I could showcase artists, host events, and provide a safe space for my community to gather and feel inspired. I could endlessly talk about future plans — it’s one of my very favorite pastimes, so I’ll leave it at that.
NL: I have none, really. I just make everything up as I go along. It’s a way of life I am embracing rather than discrediting my personal trajectory for the sake of explaining myself to anyone to receive external validation. However, I am not short on ambition, focus or motivation. I simply value my intuition and my inner guide more than traditionally respected plans. I can talk about dreams more than plans. What I am doing now is just a portal to my higher work. That’s my dream. It is ever evolving, revealing itself with more clarity daily, having to do with bringing people together, healing and creating openness and awareness within myself to reverberate with others. Follow along on my life ride if it intrigues you, but I won’t promise anything.
copyright © Haley Golden and Nora Lowinsky, all right reserved