My friend, Rachael Anderson, and I spent a lot of time together on her family’s farm over the summer and fall of 2020 . She was in Ohio working the land to sell flowers and foods at the local farmer's market. She was working to generate income before she would return to Connecticut to continue her studies as a painter. I wanted to spend time with my friend because soon I wouldn't have the opportunity. And, I missed our times together before she had left for Connecticut the previous fall. Rachael shared her polaroid SX-70 camera with me. We used it to take photos on her parent's farm. Eventually, I bought my own SX-70 to use and we started experimenting with our cameras together on a weekly basis. What was generated through this, consequently, was connection and support for one another between the spaces of creating photographs. We would commiserate over the current state of the world, the politics, the harm we had felt as effects even. Specifically, in terms of the CIS-hetero white men and the systems that serve them. We bonded with her chickens and discussed feminism, care, and art.
Recognizing the amount of joy and healing I found in spending time with Rachael, I'm retroactively reframing our time together. I am claiming it as socially-engaged art. The space that we cultivated was one of care for each other as femme-identified artists, in the middle of the pandemic. We created a space of support, a space where we could be seen by one another. To me, this is art. While beautiful photographs were created, I argue that these are merely output artifacts; ephemera of the platonic intimacy Rachael and I shared over a series of weeks and months.
I began to view this art making process with my friend as social art during a reflective conversation with Roya Amirsoleymani during a Directed Studies meeting. We discussed what had brought me joy and relief over the past several weeks during such a troublesome period: these deeply intimate, platonic photo excursions with my friend, Rachael. Why not frame this rejuvenating and deeply supportive space that my friend and I created together as social cooperative art? After my conversation with Roya, I wrote about my time with Rachael in my weekly newsletter. You can follow the link or read an adapted version below that I used in a writing sample.