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Instructor Alyson Belcher Featured in B&W Magazine

It's been a busy month for Academy of Art University Photography instructor Alyson Belcher. Her work was recently featured in Poland's Esteem Magazine and was recently the subject of a feature in B&W Magazine.

Photo by Alyson Belcher

B&W Magazine is a premier high-quality magazine of black and white photography for collectors of fine photography. B&W's feature focused on Alyson's exciting work, which combines pinhole photography with improvisational performance, stemming from Alyson's idea that "everything we experience is stored somewhere in our bodies." She says, "The images I create often reveal stories that may or may not have been known to me previously ... Often the body remembers what the mind has forgotten."

The following is an interview with Alyson discussing her current success, the trajectory of her impressive career, and her time teaching at the Academy:

Your work has been in the spotlight lately. Can you talk a little bit about what this added exposure means to you?

The publicity has been really great. I've received feedback about my work from people all over the world as a result of the B&W interview and other features. One of the most important things for me as an artist is the way art can bring people together, and the connections I've made in the past few months have been amazing. I've met some wonderful people I would not have met otherwise. I've been asked to participate in shows and to give lectures about my work. It's very important as an artist to get your work out as much as possible, and to take every opportunity to exchange ideas and interact with the larger community of photographers and artists. I'm actually really busy, but I can't complain!

Photo by Alyson Belcher

How would you describe your personal aesthetic as a photographer?

This is a big question. I am drawn to photographs that go beyond the camera's ability to create a realistic copy of the physical world. I attempt to blur the boundaries between our physical experience of the world and our inner response to it. I'm also interested in exploring the relationship between stillness and movement, and that's where the element of performance enters my work. I photograph either myself or dancers using long exposure times, which allow for a physical exploration of space, gesture, and movement. I don't usually begin a shoot with a strictly defined concept, because so much depends upon responding to what is happening in those minutes the subject is in front of the camera. So each photograph is really the result of a short improvisational performance.

Obviously, I'm inspired by dance and performance art. I also look to the history of photography for inspiration. I use a handmade pinhole camera, which is the same type of camera used by the inventors of photography. It's a rather primitive apparatus, which allows me to work in a way that is less encumbered by technology. I also love the work of early portrait photographers like Southworth and Hawes, who required subjects to sit still for several minutes while their images were recorded. I wonder what was going through the minds of the subjects as they sat for their portraits, other than the fact that they were probably very uncomfortable.

In addition to your professional work, you're also a teacher at the Academy. How do you balance teaching with your art?

I make a schedule and I do my best to stick to it. It's really important to be consistent with the time I devote to my artwork. Many of my classes are in the evening, so that gives me some time during the day, and I also teach classes online, which gives me more flexibility.

Photo by Alyson Belcher

How long have you taught at the Academy? Do you enjoy it?

I've been teaching at the Academy for six years and I love it. I really enjoy the diversity of the students and the amazing work they produce. Because the photography program has such a large curriculum, I have been given the opportunity to teach a lot of different classes. This has been very good for me as a teacher and I've been able to interact with students who are engaged in many different approaches to photography.

What projects are you currently working on, and what classes are you teaching?

Currently, I am continuing to photograph in my studio and I'm also preparing for several shows. I'm teaching graduate classes in black-and-white fine printing and the history of photography (both on-site and online); I'm also teaching the undergraduate senior fine art portfolio class.

What are your plans for the future of your photography, both professionally and personally?

I plan to continue exploring the same themes in my work and to see how it all evolves. I want to get my work out more, to continue showing in galleries and to produce a book. One of the most challenging aspects of being a working artist is balancing the art making with the business. So while more shows and a book are goals, my first priority is always making new work. I find that if I keep my focus on the work itself, the rest of it falls into place at the right time.

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