The impact I want to make in photography is to make images that are different, but, well worth the view.– Marvin Wells
I was interested in Art before I was old enough to ride public transit alone. Thanks to my older brother, I was exposed to Chicago’s museums, parks, architecture, lakefront and great music. Art was everywhere and I was sketch ing it. But it was taking me too long. When I picked up a camera, I suddenly realized that many of the same images I was trying to draw could be created using that tool and a darkroom. I needed to learn the camera and how to make prints the way that I envisioned them. I eventually enrolled at Columbia College because of its fine arts photography program. As I honed my own fine arts photography skills, I began working in the commercial side of the craft. I could function well there, but my heart was not in it. I wanted to produce prints that expressed MY perceptions.The darkroom became my fantasy world. I consider myself as much of a printmaker as I do a photographer. What’s different now is that the digital world has opened up a whole new world of creativity. I alter my photographs with the idea of moving the “untouched image” toward the surreal, the abstract or the unrecognizable. As an African American photographer, I face the same issues as other African American artists: not being acknowledged within the “global” artistic community and being undervalued. Because so many people take pictures, recognizing photography, as a fine art, is a harder sell. The impact I want to make in photography is to make images that are different, but, well worth the view. I tend to shy away from “pretty pictures.” My photographs tend to focus on things that would be considered otherwise very mundane if not for my artistic manipulation of the image. I want viewers to ponder whether my images are drawings or photographs. I want to catch their attention and have them ponder how it was done. I want them to decide, in some cases, for themselves, what they see.
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