Interview #400: Lindley Warren
Lindley Warren is based in Iowa, USA and makes introspective and intimate images. She also runs various online platforms, showcasing creative talents from around the world. Most recently, she’s been busy organizing a double exhibition and publishing the first volume of The Ones We Love.
q: Give a short introduction about yourself:
a: I’m from Des Moines, Iowa where I currently reside. I curate The Ones We Love, The Photographic Dictionary, Flourish Flori and Art of Iowa. I work at a locally owned art-house theater and am in the process of finishing up my college degree.
q: Your photographs often depict nature and sub-urban scenes, which I find has quite a relaxing and personal touch. How has living in Iowa influenced you and what do you want to show in your images?
a: I would say Iowa in general has a slower, kinder, softer approach to things than a lot of other places. Personally I think it may stem out of our old farmer blood, from when our grandparents were all working in and with nature. More than any time in my life I’m using my photography to explore emotional aspects of myself. I’ve experienced a lot of loss this year which has created a deep feeling of somber reflection on life, what is dealt to us, and how we cope. I’ve always been fascinated with the ignored things in life and I find great beauty in the small, nearly abandoned towns in Iowa. I find in them a feeling that I often feel inside of myself and that is what I’ve been attempting to capture with my new series ‘Scenes Gone By’ and ‘Like An Old Song.’ This quote by Ken Kesey from his remarkably beautiful book ‘Sometimes a Great Notion’ (from which I got the name for my series ‘Scenes Gone By’) in a lot of way sums up my current approach to photography:
“Look…Reality is greater than the sum of its parts, also a damn sight holier. And the lives of such stuff as dreams are made of may be rounded with a sleep but they are not tied neatly with a red bow. Truth doesn’t run on time like a commuter train, though time may run on truth. And the Scenes Gone By and the Scenes to Come flow blending together in the sea-green deep while Now spreads in circles on the surface. So don’t sweat it. For focus simply move a few inches back or forward. And once more…look.”
q: I feel like your project “The Ones We Love” is like an extension of your own personal works: intimate and specific, but still abstract enough to be widely relatable. What was the inspiration or idea behind “The Ones We Love”?
a: I originally created the project during the first time I left home and was attending art school for a semester. I felt quite alone but at the same time deeply in touch with my creative abilities. For an assignment we were encouraged to contact artists that we admired. I began to e-mail people and found such a richness in that communication, even in general things like their school experiences or where they were from. We had a final assignment which was quite open. The idea was to work within the medium that interested you most and in some way have it on public display. I had fallen in love for the first time before I left for school and was in the middle of a long-distance relationship. I decided that it would be interesting to see the people that mattered most to the photographers I admired. It’s very important to me that the project explores all different kinds of love whether it’s your lover, your parent, or the strangers you meet. I also attempt to bring the viewer closer to the personal reality of the photographers.
q: You are publishing a book and having a double exhibition for your project, what’s the most rewarding part of undertaking such an effort?
a: On my small scale I’m doing what I hope to do on a larger scale someday, which is promoting the photography that I like. It’s a pleasure to work with people that are creating beautiful images and also to present them in different formats. The internet is great for a lot of reasons, but I feel that holding a book in your hands or looking at an image in a gallery can bring you closer to an image. I don’t know if I’ve cried looking at photography online, but I have while looking at it in books and galleries. A gallery is more public but there can be a deep intimacy to viewing art in that setting, and what a joy to hold something beautiful in your hands. It is a lot of work. However, it is very rewarding to create something that contains so many talented people which exists somewhere other than a digital screen.
q: I love how the internet enables us to discover so many talented artist from all over the world. Your other projects like “The Photographic Dictionary” and “Florish Flori” provide a well-curated platform for these artist. What made you want to start these websites?
a: The Photographic Dictionary was an idea that came to me randomly. I have no recollection of where it came from. I am fascinated with the combination of photography and words, for instance the work of Sophie Calle. There are so many gorgeous websites that showcase incredible photography. My goal is to create playgrounds for photographers to present their work in a new light, whether it be focusing on the people they care about or pairing their images with words. Something that is nice is that some photographers think of these words naturally while they are creating an image and this project presents a great place for them to combine the words and images. Flourish Flori again is coming from an interest to see more of the people behind the images. The original idea was to create a community where the photographers interact with each other and present new projects and ideas. I also really like seeing the things that artists are interested in and inspired by which Flourish Flori provides.
q: Photographic equipment?
a: Pentacon 6TL and an iPhone app light meter.
q: Upcoming projects or ideas?
a: Orders for The Ones We Love Volume I end on July 1st and the exhibition and shipment of the books will happen mid-August so I am quite full until then. However, I want to begin making alphabet books for The Photographic Dictionary and also have an exhibition for the project which will play with the words and images. I also intend to expand Flourish Flori in a new direction, perhaps with guest Interviewers and creating a space where photographers can interact as I originally intended.
q: Any new music to recommend?
a: Not new, but my recommendations: Privacy & Michael Nyman’s 1-100.