DeAnn Desilets: The States Project: Pennsylvania
I first met DeAnn Desilets when she was an MFA candidate with the Academy of Art and was struck by her dedication to her practice and to the larger photography world. She regularly shares with me photographic artists she has discovered–her enthusiasm of the possibilities of the digital darkroom is ever present. Much of DeAnn’s photographic practice is rooted in her love of the imagination, an out growth of an obsession with childhood books, and perhaps as a petite person herself, the perspective of Alice in Wonderland as she enters photographic worlds that differ in scale and size. I’m thrilled to have DeAnn as the Pennsylvania States Project Editor.
DeAnn is a fine art photographer, educator, and curator. Born in Red Bank, NJ, she received a BFA in photography from Tyler School of Art and an MFA in Photography from the Academy of Art University in 2014.
Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and has been published in print and online. In 2015, she was a finalist for the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, and currently has work in a group show at Connexions Gallery in Easton, PA
In addition to her photography practice, DeAnn is a commercial retoucher and curator who has recently formed White Rabbit Creative Studio, LLC. Her long list of clients list includes Rodale, Meredith Corp., Thrillist Media Group, and Pfizer to name a few. DeAnn now lives and works in Bethlehem, PA.
“Courage, dear heart”. (~Aslan, C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.” -C.S. Lewis
The natural landscape out there contains many mysteries that can unfold before us if we open ourselves up to see it. The places we go can come to life with sight, touch, smell, and sound if you allow yourself to be part of it.
Much like reading a story book as a child, your imagination can run wild when you immerse yourself into new worlds. As you step into an image, allow yourself to stand stark still and open up your minds to what could be out there. Go back to that time when you were a kid hiding behind a tree so something wouldn’t see you, or when you held your breath in the dark. Wait and watch as creatures materialize in front of you prepare to get sucked into the narrative and magic that grows around them.
Some of the pieces within this series have a musical accompaniment created by Primetime Emmy winner, Carly Comando. These collaborations were created by mood and feeling interpreted by each of us through image first and then song, or song first, and then an image. A back and forth, symbiotic relationship to further fuel our own creativities.
These, collaborative pieces which when viewed and listened to together fully immerse the viewer to experience the image. Almost as if the sounds of nature transform into its own little symphony bringing each image to life.
“Everything that you can imagine is real.” -Pablo Picasso
Tell us what makes creating work in Pennsylvania so special?
Pennsylvania is a beautiful place. Lots of open space, mountains, lakes, rivers, streams and fresh air. Also, where we are is close to hubs of culture like NYC and Philly.
Do you identify as a PA photographer?
My imagery itself is not location specific nor is it meant to be, my goal is to take you to a new place entirely. So in that sense, I don’t identify as a Pennsylvania photographer. Though, if you want a technical answer, I would more identify as a Tri-State photographer having split my life between PA and NJ.
Is there a strong sense of connectedness with photographers in PA? There is a lot going on it Philadelphia and Pittsburgh but what about the rest of the state?
There is a photography community growing for certain outside those hubs, for instance every November here in the Lehigh Valley hosts InVision Photo Festival which is garnering acclaim. Each year they seem to alternate with showcasing commercial work and fine artists from the area and states wide. Joyce Tenneson spoke a few years ago here, it was amazing. With that being said it is still hard to find fine artists outside the cities that are making connections and showing work.
How did you make your selections for the state?
When choosing artists from Pennsylvania, I looked to find a group with ideas and concepts that drew me in, but are different enough from each other to create variation and flow throughout the week. I was drawn to photographers who have fun with their creative process and really think about what they create from one image to another.
Whether they intentionally placed their subject matter there, altered it, or stumbled upon it, this grouping rounds the spectrum of genres from landscape, portraiture, still life, documentary, to montage. I’m excited to see them all come to life on Lenscratch.
Your new work encompasses two really interesting elements: collaboration and music. Can you tell us how this came about and how it has enhanced your image making?
It really started as a conversation between two friends about how hard it is to find the energy and time to make your own work when you create for other people all day. This lead to a idea that we would show each other work every week to get feedback, and then the idea. Carly Comando is a composer, not a photographer. So we proposed an idea. What if every week we trade off back and forth. I will make an image, and she scores a piece of music to it. Then the following week, she composes a piece of music and I create an image for it. Purely based on evoked emotion and experience of either art form.
I have never worked in tandem with the performing arts before. It really makes you think differently and focus on an experiential level more than I ever had before. What animal do I think of when I hear this? What kind of landscape would they be in? Is it night or day? Each photograph and musical composition almost make the project more cinematic or as if we are playwrights. Its really exciting, and we plan on continuing it for a while.
To hear the accompanying music, go here:
I imagine you have quite a collection of prop at this point. Do you think you will continue making work in this genre?
You have no idea! I have baskets on baskets, and growing. I do think I will continue this way. There is so much to explore and curating for this week I have run into more and more wonderful ideas to experiment with.
What’s next? I think I may venture back into exploring furniture again honestly. I have taken a break from it and allowed myself to step back and gain new perspective on what that project meant to me and new ideas have surfaced for it.
I have also been toying with the idea of creating a children’s photo book with my animals. I certainly have the zoo to do so!
And finally, describe your perfect day!
A day I can go on an adventure with my husband into the wilderness. Camera and toys in hand, or sometimes even without a camera. To just be present and aware, and maybe just maybe, I will find the perfect tree bottom with the best gnarly roots and hidey holes to build a little fairy home and leave it to find for the next person to walk by.
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Nadine Rovner: The States Project: PennsylvaniaApril 24th, 2016
Marty Desilets: The States Project: PennsylvaniaApril 23rd, 2016
Harold Ross: The States Project: PennsylvaniaApril 22nd, 2016
Florence Rodale: The States Project: PennsylvaniaApril 21st, 2016
Ed Panar: The States Project: PennsylvaniaApril 20th, 2016