Directors Award : a conversation with Aimee McCrory

Aimee McCrory received the Director’s Award for her wonderful image, “Ghost Chair,” in our recent exhibition, “light.”

Amanda and I were fortunate to have a great conversation with her not too long ago. Aimee has a background in theatre and performance. It appears the performance side of her artistic nature is bonded to her photographic side. One appears to not take precedence over the other. Aimee is the intriguing and thought-provoking subject of much her photography. So, what we know first is Aimee and her story, then we may think of cameras and their progeny.  She is very brave. There is an elegant rawness to her work — like dragging velvet across a chalkboard.

Kevin: Aimee your recent images include your husband as a co-conspirator or muse exposed. Can you tell us about where you have been and where you are going artistically?

Aimee:  What is so constant in my practice is my desire to reveal my truth…to borrow a theater term it is like ‘pulling back the curtain’ for the audience.

Because I grew up thinking there was something very wrong with me, I put a great deal of energy into learning how to disguise my shame. I spent years meticulously applying a veneer that would camouflage what I perceived to be terribly flawed within myself.

As I grew, I began to seek creative outlets that would be safe places to express my emotions.

I channeled that creative current through every outlet I could find, be it theater, television, and most recently photography.

As I move through this last chapter of my life, I am even more compelled to pierce the veil and demonstrate what is real about life at my age. Life at any age is challenging, but life at this age is even more complex.

Currently I am deep in the throes of telling the story of a long and complex bond of marriage. I want to reveal what it looks like to share a relationship in the fourth quadrant of our lives. There is no window dressing…I hold a mirror up to others experiencing similar issues.

In our culture there is tremendous shame in growing old. Terms such as. ‘losing your wits’, ‘becoming irrelevant, ‘being abandoned’ haunt older individuals.  Why not ‘come out of the closet’ and raise awareness to the joys and challenges of growing old together?

Interestingly, by appropriating our marriage as the subject matter for this work the project has added yet another unexpected dimension to our relationship

As of now this body of work does not feel complete because there are new stories to be told. As long as that continues, the project remains ongoing. I plan to fine tune the narrative sequence and create a book in the not-too-distant future.

This body of work is one that I feel is intimate, humorous, and hopeful. As for upcoming work I have a few ideas in the hopper. As of this moment my plate is full.

Kevin: Yes, much great art has been made out of a response to pain or abuse or loss, yet the hurt can also create comics and satirists.  Talking to you I think I recognized a prankster lurking inside?

Acting can also be used as a mask and a dagger or a valentine. Cameras, SLR or video, are purveyors of intimacy, real or imagined. I love the Annie Leibovitz quote, “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” I would imagine working in theatre is naturally an intimate thing? Telling stories not your own with all the emotions earned and learned from living, so actually, telling stories that are your own. Am I digging too deep here?

I would think your experience in the theatre and having to present in public has also empowered and informed your photography practice. Behind the camera one can also be director, actor and script writer. Do you think of what you do in these terms or am I reading too much into things?

Aimee:  Yes Kevin, I am one hell of a prankster, and I agree with the notion that all good artists are ‘tortured’ in some way. Angst is grist for the mill in good storytelling (in my opinion) and I have plenty of ‘angst’ and I use it to amplify an image. I am a storyteller at heart and, yes, you are correct in that my skills as a performance artist are an added benefit when creating an image. I embrace the lens as an extension of myself…a vessel in which to channel my emotions… my vision.

Something else we haven’t really talked about is my proximity to Death. It pervades everything I do in my creative world. Knowing where I am in the course of my life heightens the urgency and expediency of my work. I am so very ALIVE in this moment because Death is in the room with me all of the time.

Kevin:  Momento Mori can be both frightening and freeing. I think I see that it has both compelled you to do work you may not have done as a younger person, more raw and intimate, but also unbridled your sense of play and wry, yet sensitive, farce – a visual inside joke of sorts.

Aimee:  Kevin, I would agree with you. I think ‘Momento Mori’, (I like the sound of it), is a tremendous catalyst. It keeps my work fresh, provocative and sometimes uncomfortable to look at. I am flying without a net most of the time and that’s when really good stuff begins to happen. At the point at which I can no longer see the shore is the place where the work begins to flow. I work very hard. I am very disciplined in my endeavor as an artist. I do find that writing daily inspires me in my process and new ideas are born within those pages.

Kevin:  Finally, thank you very much for supporting the gallery and going along with this interview. One last question, what film best captures your aesthetic, if there is one?

Aimee:  I’ve been thinking about your question and the answer is that I do not have just one film that captures my aesthetic.

I do however have a director and filmmaker that captures my aesthetic and that is Alfred Hitchcock. He is everything to me. I read this quote somewhere:

Hitchcockian style includes the use of editing and camera movement to mimic a person’s gaze, thereby turning viewers into voyeurs, and framing shots to maximize anxiety and fear”. 

He exemplifies the mood I am attempting to create in the series I am currently working on. I have watched every movie to observe his genius. I am so appreciative of your willingness to do this on my behalf, Kevin.  You might enjoy watching the Hitchcock series as well!

All my best to Amanda!

 

To see more of Aimee’s work follow this link.