I discovered Kristyn Russell’s work when she presented at the recent SPE (Society for Photographic Educators) Conference in San Diego. What intrigued me about her presentation was that the work she originally set out to produce lead to additional work that was unexpected. Her presentation got me thinking about being flexible when creating a series as the twists and turns of our photographic journey can leave us in a very different space that originally intended.
Kirstyn currently teaches at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California, and she received her BFA from NYU and her MFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts.
While producing her postcard project, Where We Are Not Known, about gay bars in America, Kirstyn realized that while many gay businesses are unmarked, traditional business can proudly present signage that celebrates gay terminology.
I started photographing queer spaces as a way to look at identity in the landscape. As I started looking for Gay Bars to photograph on a trip to West Virginia I realized many of the bars and clubs had been closed down. In my intense search (2,200 miles in 4 days) I started projecting queerness into the stores, street signs, grocery stores I was driving past. In areas where overt queerness is hidden (no rainbow flags on the gay bars) I noticed pool halls called “Butches” and supermarkets called “Big Bear”.
Photographing all over the United States and parts of Europe has expanded the project. I have begun to look at the histories (real or created) I project onto the places I photograph. By using my camera I am able to recontextualize the spaces I photograph.
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