Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Provocative World of Photographer Gerald Slota

I first discovered Gerald Slota’s work online when I stumbled across a photograph from his “True” series. I spent over 3 hours absorbing every image I could find, trying to get to know this mysterious artist and his intriguing body of work.  I loved the sense of voyeurism his images evoked. As I clicked through each photograph I felt as though I had stumbled into someone’s dark secret and I wanted to know more.

Gerald’s photography represents a psychological visual adventure filled with layers of taunting visual devices that come together to create haunting, and sometimes disturbing, images.  When you meet Gerald you will find he is anything but “dark”. He is easy going, charismatic and has a great sense of humor; but more than anything he is very passionate about his work and producing great images.
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you got into this field?
A: When I first started out in the mid ’90’s I wasn’t thinking about editorial work, I was busy concentrating on my first solo exhibit, called “TRUE” which was being shown at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York City. My work was introduced to Kathy Ryan, the photo editor of The New Times Magazine, and that eventually led to my first editorial job.
Q: Was that the breakout job that helped launch your career?
A: Yes, it was. Kathy hired me for the Cover of The New York Times Magazine. I created the image to go with a story called “Attachment Theory: The Ultimate Experiment” which was about the tragic stories of eastern European children with severe parental deprivation and the difficulties faced by their American adoptive parents.

Q: You are that unique combination of art meets commerce. How do you maintain the balance of answering to your artistic side and yet being able to deliver commercial jobs.
A: I’ve been lucky enough to be hired to work within my style and have creative freedom while working with a lot of great photo editors. But I’ve learned to tailor editorial assignments to viewers, whether on concrete topics such as events or stories, or on abstract concepts like “deja vu” or dark matter.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: It ranges depending on the assignment. For some, I get a story or rough draft; for others, simply a general idea. In either case, I dissect the issue, emotion, and and I go from there. To me they’re like a movie script that I’m bringing to life with an image.

Q: What has been your favorite assignment(s) to date?
A: All of them. Really! Each one brings unique creative challenges, while giving me insight into areas ranging from politics and science to psychology, mental illness, and unexplained phenomena.
Q: How has your work changed in the last few years?
A: I began by spending a lot of time in a black & white film darkroom and either hand-delivering or mailing in the negatives/prints. In the past few years I went digital and started working mainly in color; sending my assignments via email.

Q: Where is your work heading next? Where do you see yourself/your work in the future?
A: I’m always looking to experiment with new subjects, new directions, and styles, and I like working with creative people. i think my work could fit in with a lot of different concepts…so maybe an advertising campaign, and I’ve always wanted to do a fashion spread. I have also done music videos and a couple of short films.  I really like the medium and directing, but it’s really about finding the right project and of course one that intrigues me. I go between still and film/video, so hopefully I’ll be doing another one soon.
Q: What equipment are you currently using to produce your work?
A: A point and shoot Nikon P6000. For me it’s not about the equipment, it’s all about the making an image that provokes the feelings and moods of the viewers.

More about Gerald Slota:
GERALD SLOTA is a fine artist and photographer who has been widely exhibited across the US and abroad. He has had solo shows at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, and Langhans Galerie in Prague, Czech Republic, as well as been shown at Recontres D’ Arles in Arles, France. Slota is represented by Ricco/Maresca Gallery in NYC and the Robert Berman Gallery in LA, and his images have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek,The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Discover, and Scientific America, as well as in BOMB, Blindspot, ARTNEWS, Art in America, and Aperture. He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and has lectured at many institutions such as the International Center for Photography (ICP). Gerald Slota has garnered many awards including a Polaroid 20”x24” Grant, a MacDowell Artist Residency, and a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship Grant in 2001 and 2009.

Ricco Maresca Gallery