The Hamidah Glasgow Mixtape
“The Center for Fine Art Photography has done something wonderful for me–they have become a conduit through which my work has been exposed to a whole new level of international awareness, and through which I have come to meet members of my own tribe. Their juried competitions have availed the chance to show my work to internationally renowned jurors, and through their exhibitions I have been able to meet those jurors and the other participating artists. This has not only increased my visibility as an artist, and boosted my confidence, but more importantly it has connected me directly to the international and contemporary community of photographic artists and people who love the photographic arts. I feel as though they were the first to take me in out of the cold, give me a blanket, a bowl of stew, a place to rest for a moment. I will be eternally thankful for their support and good cheer.” Bear Kirkpatrick
It gives me great pleasure to celebrate Hamidah Glasgow today–she is the Executive Director of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, a tireless advocate for photography, an insightful reviewer and curator, a friend to countless photographers, and the magician and visionary that has shaped a small town institution into a first class organization. Fort Collins may not be New York City, but the Center for Fine Art Photography has a BIG footprint in the photo world–supporting photographers through exposure, community, and education.
I have watched the evolution of the Center for Fine Art Photography from near and far, as an exhibiting artist, as a juror, and educator and have to say that everything Hamidah brings to the table is done with class, dignity, and only good intentions. It is worth the plane ride to attend an exhibition or event–participating photographers are well celebrated, offered portfolio views and made to feel part of the C4FAP family. You leave feeling connected and motivated and ready to move forward.
One of the qualities that I so admire about Hamiah is her desire to keep improving and stimulating her mind, not only considering her own journey, but the journey of emerging and established photographers. She has tremendous respect for the artist and wanted me to be sure to acknowledge Carrie Mae Weems winning the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” grant. And now, The Hamidah Glagow Mixtape:
Tell us about your growing up and what brought you to photography?
I am the daughter of an artist. My father, Lukman Glasgow, was a ceramic artist and photographer, my mother was a poet and, in her early years, a dancer. My parents were born and raised in Provo, Utah to non-Mormon parents (pretty rare back in those days). When they left Utah, they moved to San Francisco and, while there, made friends with Wavy Gravy and converted to Sufism. Back in the day, they performed together and my mother danced to my father’s poetry readings. So, I pretty much had your ordinary childhood.
My father always had a camera around his neck and when I think of him the song “Kodachrome” comes to mind. My first experience with photography was in high school and was the highlight of my high school experience—well, that and sneaking in to TP the quad (we didn’t get caught).
I like to do things that scare me so that I can continue to grow and learn. I have traveled to 31 countries and counting, worked as a firefighter, a Hollywood producer, business development director and a ski instructor. I’ve skydived and scuba dived. I’ve ridden camels and elephants, and scouted glaciers in the Yukon in a Huey (more on that later). As I said, I like to do things that scare me. And art is like that; putting yourself out there can be scary, but that’s where the magic is.
Photography has always been close to my heart; the day that changed my life was the day a professor brought two books to class. Those books were Sarah Moon’s Coincidences and Keith Carter’s Finding Venus. They made me realize the vast possibilities that photography contained. I purchased those books and my collection has grown considerably since then, but they remain two of my favorites. What I know is that the passion I have for photography and artists is a deep abiding passion. What is your title and job description and tell us about a typical day?
I am the Executive Director and Curator of The Center for Fine Art Photography. Wow, a typical day is not typical. Depending on whether we are installing an exhibition, hosting a reception, doing reviews, or I am writing grant applications, every day is different. One of my favorite things to do at work is be in the gallery talking to guests about the work on exhibition. What are some of your proudest achievements?
My proudest achievement was deciding to change a life that I didn’t like. It looked great on paper, but wasn’t mine as I had imagined. So I started a new life; a life that I love. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. I encourage everyone to choose a life they love. What do you look for when attending a portfolio review?
Portfolio Reviews are rich with relationships, great art and endless possibilities. First and foremost, I look for reviews themselves that attract high quality, dedicated artists and reviewers. The experience is a huge commitment on both sides of the table and I take that commitment seriously. To be away from the galleries for a week is difficult for a small nonprofit like the Center. I want to make sure that the time is well spent, that I’m able to meet with artists I can make a difference for and find great work to show at the Center.
Any advice for photographers coming to a review event?
Usually, I advise artists to build up from small reviews to the larger, more high profile ones, preferably starting with a review at a local, low-stress event. This allows for the learning process to occur without the pressure. It also provides opportunities for networking with other serious artists in your area that may prove to be a powerful support system. One thing to remember is that this business is all about relationships. When you sit down with a reviewer, or if you happen to be sitting at the bar after the reviews talking with one, develop a relationship. It’s not the time to sell yourself. It’s a time to get your work seen and build relationships. Results may take time; don’t be too pushy.
Usually an exhibition doesn’t happen right away; it may not even happen after a year or two, but the relationship makes the space for the exhibition/book/interview/purchase possible. Then timing takes over and specific outcomes happen when they’re meant to. (I did offer a solo show to an artist, Christa Blackwood, “on the spot” once; I asked her if she could show her work the following month in our North Gallery. But don’t tell anyone about that, as it might raise expectations!)
What is something unexpected that we don’t know about you?
The things that you don’t know about me:
I think helicopters are just about the sexiest things in the world; the double rotors like the Black Hawk, Huey and the Chinook. Yep.
I have an obsession with Claude Cahun, both for her work and for the choice she made to not define herself or box herself in. She was way ahead of her time. If only I could go back in time and be a fly in the air of Claude Cahun’s world for a while.
I’m just about to finish a Master’s Degree in Visual Culture and Gender Studies. I took on the program to learn more about the things that I’m curious about and want a deeper understanding of. It just so happens that I already have the job I love. Did I mention that I consider myself extremely fortunate?
Favorite song, band, and do you dance?
Ok, this is going to show my age, AC/DC Back in Black, Elton Johns Tiny Dancer, Music. Okay, this is going to show my age: AC/DC’s Back in Black, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, and Johnny Cash’s version of the Nine Inch Nails song, Hurt. Really, I love all kinds of music, from country to Mozart. It just depends on the day and my mood.
And now, I’m turning the post over to Hamidah Glasgow:
As I said, I love the Center and our interactions with artists and the community. In 2014, the Center will celebrate its 10th anniversary. In those ten years we have been fortunate to feature a number of talented artists. Many of the artists we work with initially responded to one of our Call for Entries, which has laid the groundwork for solo exhibitions and amazing careers. Some people have negative associations with juried exhibitions, but I’m proud of the Center’s exhibitions and the access to excellent jurors and opportunities afforded the artists that show with us. Many artists have gained gallery representation, had their work published in magazines or have garnered other opportunities. The Center exists to serve photographic artists and the community. We also offer solo exhibitions to many of our exhibiting artists. The pleasure of a nonprofit gallery is the ability to work with artists in the early stages of their trajectory as well as later in their careers.
I’d like to highlight some of the Center Forward Artists. This is the third year for Center Forward. The original idea was to hold an annual juried exhibition that consistently built on the previous year’s show and continued to grow. We publish an exhibition catalog and hold weekend events like portfolio sharing, reviews and artist lunches, and talks.
This year, the featured Center Forward artists are Andrea Basically, Nikki Antenucci, Sheri Lynn Behr, Brenda Biondo, Stephanie Brunia, Ernie Button, Kim Campbell, Sally Carpenter, Pazu Chan, Goseong Choi, Kirk Crippens, Catherine Day, Mark Dorf, Steven Ford, Ana Galan, Randi Ganulin, Susanna Gaunt, Meg Griffiths, Carolyn Hampton, Robert Heller, Katie Kalkstein, Sandra Klein, Eliza Lamb, Heidi Lender, Amiko LI, Jennifer McClure, Kendall Messick, Diane Meyer, Blue Mitchell,Robert Moran, Heather Munoz, Yoichi Nagata, Joseph O’Leary, Kate T. Parker, Lori Pond, Nataly Rader, Stan Raucher, Michelle Rogers Pritzl, Robert Rozumalski, Deb Schwedhelm, John Singletary, S. Gayle Stevens, Sean Stewart, Suzette Troche Stapp, Alison Turner, Grace Weston and Dianne Yudelson.
I’ll leave you with this list of some amazing photobooks that I have in my library and consider recommended reading/viewing. 1. Sarah Moon – Coincidences 2. Keith Carter – Finding Venus 3. Joel Peter Witkin – Songs of Innocence 4. Claude Cahun – Disavowals: or Cancelled Confessions 5. Revelations – Diane Arbus 6. The Grotesque in Photography – A.D. Coleman 7. Gender in the Mirror: Cultural Imagery and Women’s Agency 8. Rrose, Is a Rrose, Is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography
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