Inward on My Own Personal History - Maine College of Art

Brittany Marcoux '10

My time spent at MECA was crucial to my photographic practice.

Describe a body of work that you have made.
During my time at MECA I worked on a photographic series dealing with my hometown in Swansea, Massachusetts. I titled it Born Into This, a line borrowed from a Charles Bukowski’s poem “Dinosauria We.” I had just moved back to the East Coast to finish my BFA degree, after a short stint in California, and was newly inspired by my hometown. I started photographing the places that were the closest to me— my own neighborhood, changes in the local landscape, and objects/interiors of the house I grew up in. I was sort of on the outside, looking in on my own personal history. It’s funny, I am now in my 2nd year of my MFA program at MassArt, and my work has only gone deeper into this personal history that I am trying to unravel. The work has progressed in many ways, both conceptually and technically. Even though I am in the Photography Program, I am working with video and installation as well, much more interdisciplinary. It’s exciting!

What made you chose to go into your current field of art/your major?
Well, my high school did not have much of an art program, just a few drawing and painting classes, no photography what-so-ever. I didn’t take my first photography class until I was about 18 and I was hooked.  This started my pursuit for a fine arts education. It’s a bit convoluted, but I’ll try and keep it short. I was about one month away from starting my freshman year in the Nursing Program at  Worcester State College when I took a summer photo class at Bristol Community College (BCC) in Fall River, MA. I immediately cancelled all my Worcester plans, made my parents pretty upset, and decided to enroll at BCC temporarily. I continued to take all art related classes during that year and then, being 18, headed to California to attend California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). I spent three semesters there, missed home, the East Coast, friends and family, so I moved back and got accepted as a transfer student at MECA! It took me a little while to figure it all out, but pursuing photography was definitely something I knew I had to do…and I still am today! I think I made the right choice, I would have made a terrible nurse.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
My time spent at MECA was crucial to my photographic practice. It was there that I began turning the camera inward on my own personal history, which I continue to investigate today. Also, having such a small, close group in the Photography Program was really important and was something that drew me to the program. We got a lot of one-on-one time with our professors and got to REALLY know each other’s work. MECA encouraged a lot of cross-disciplinary work, which I enjoyed. Along with my photo classes I took a Super 8 class, a couple sculpture classes, film history, a really awesome sustainability class, and worked closely with graphic designers. All of which I believe has influenced the way I make work now. I do not only rely on the still image to tell my story, instead I incorporate old VHS tapes from childhood, objects, wall paper and other materials to create full installations.

What inspires you?
The new directions that photography is taking. I just bought Charlotte Cotton’s new book Photography is Magic – it is great! The medium itself inspires me. It is so accessible and has so many different methods and uses. Whether I am looking at an original William Eggleston print, a close up of Pluto, kittens on the internet, or my friends photos on Instagram, something happens that is exciting and inspiring, and so different at the same time.

What kind of career are you pursuing after your graduation?
When I graduated from MECA in 2010 I got a job working at a fine art print shop in Rhode Island, called iolabs. It was a great job at the time, being right out of school and all, it allowed me to produced my own work and also get inspiration from all the artists that would come in to print or frame their own projects. I worked there for four years until I decided it was time to go back to school, just last year. I was sad to leave iolabs, but was super excited about starting my MFA at MassArt. I have also been teaching some classes in RISD’s Continuing Education Program over the past 4 years and it something I have really grown to love. I will be graduating in May 2016 and would love to begin teaching right away. The goal is to get a teaching position somewhere around Providence, RI and Boston, and continue my own art practice as well. Me and some lady friends here at MassArt have also started a little art collaboration called The Pink Box Collective (website coming soon!) and we hope to continue curating and showing our work throughout New England.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I recently did a workshop with a visiting artist and she asked us all, “Why You? Why now?” – I found this super helpful when thinking about the work I am currently creating, especially since it is so personal. It is important to think about and be aware of, even if you are not sure of the answers yet. Why is it important that I am making this work? and why does it matter now, in the year 2015? Tough questions.

View Brittany’s work here.