The IDEA group Sabrina wrote about on her blog last week is an off-shoot of the Artist Round Tables (ART) but with a different focus. It’s along the same idea of understanding and developing voice but we also look at how our own work fits into the larger scheme of art and the world around us. It’s said that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat the past and the IDEA group is a step in non-repetition.

Making images that matter–ones that will have an impact or be of lasting importance–takes much more than good composition or an understanding of the “rules”. It requires an understanding of what makes the iconic images that shaped photography important and how they relate to the times that shaped them. This is more than just a visual exercise and requires looking beyond the visual surface. Understanding art and images is also understanding of the relationship of art to its own past, how it relates to the social and political times in which it was made. The importance of an image like Pepper #30 goes far beyond tonal values or composition–those things are only supporting props to what makes this image so important and lasting. Much of this work was aimed at higher goals. Unfortunately those goals seem to have gotten lost in the pursuit of craft for craft’s sake in today’s “hurry up” world.

IDEA is a group of 5 photographers with relentless curiosity and a desire to make meaningful images using their own voice. The image discussion and understanding the impact of these images on the world and the art of photography allows us to see how they have shaped our current standards. And learning the all things that go into making art will allow us to develop a voice and say something new.

I’d like to invite those of you interested in discovering your own voice to apply to this year’s Artist Round Tables. This relationship of our own work to the history of art is sure to come up along with the reasons and ways we can develop unique work that will matter beyond our times.


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