Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle S Ross.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Depth of character and source of identity capture my heart. Where do these come from? How do they dance together? My work centers on how internal and external forces blend to shape our sense of identity. Let’s start with me, a 58-year-old, queer photographer and circus junkie. I ride a unicycle, do mermaid stuff, and I’m learning a bit of bull-whip.
Portrait photography is my main passion, but I enjoy many types of artistic media, such as video, sculpture, creative writing, and fashion. I am also re-discovering performance, which I include in my artist talks to launch my shows.
After a circuitous career that includes art and science, I am firmly back to my roots in the arts.
I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I moved to the United States for graduate school. I eventually worked in public health and made a six-figure salary. All that came to a grinding halt after a mental, physical, and financial breakdown. As part of the arduous process of rebuilding myself, I took photography classes at The Atlanta School of Photography (ASoP). After only four years, I have come full circle and I have a show coming up on October 5-6, 2019 at ASoP, called “HeadShots: Mental States,” part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP), a month-long photography festival in Atlanta. This will be my third show. My first show was “The Crinste Family” and my second show was “My Bodies My Selves.” At first glance, these three shows appear diverse. What ties them together is a consistent theme of gender-identity, body-image, age, struggles with mental illness, and a high level of irreverence. My first two shows consisted entirely of self-portraits. The photos can be seen on my website www.danielleSrossphoto.com. My upcoming show combines photography, sculpture, and fashion to depict complex mental states.
Please tell us about your art.
The portraits I exhibit at my shows are 2.5 by 4-foot prints hanging on stands throughout the room. In each show, I create a world of different characters for the audience to explore. All the characters are based on aspects of myself, but I hope my audience can imagine how they might fit into this alternative world, and explore the forces that shape their own sense of identity. Then I take this internal world and relate it to events and sources of joy and horror in this world, the one where you have to make money, pay for things and clean your living quarters (and your hindquarters).
What I hope my audience takes away from my work is that no matter how difficult it can be to stop apologizing for who you are, no matter how vulnerable, invisible, beautiful, ugly, queer, old, whatever you might feel, just stick that middle finger in the air and take charge. Let yourself crash, then forgive yourself and follow that middle finger forward. And always, always dig deep and find your sense of humor.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
That’s a tough question. A part of me wants to say follow your passion as an artist and ignore any discouragement. Another part of me says, “Yeah, do that, but save for retirement.” And then another part of me says, “Oh no! I sound like a geezer!” And then another part of me says, “If I hadn’t struggled so much, then I would be a different artist and person.” And then another part says, “Oh God, there’s that struggling, starving artist thing again.”
But the loudest part of me says, “Try to find a community you can be part of, and that you can contribute to. You’ll be happier if you can anchor yourself within an accepting and supportive community. Follow your passion; don’t give up; listen and learn from others, but take their advice into consideration (don’t just accept what they say). While you’re doing all that, definitely figure out some way to save money. Turn off the TV, the internet, the phone, etc. Unplug and get to work.”
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
You can find a list of services and prices on my web site www.danielleSrossphoto.com.
Please come to my shows! They are free, but donations are always welcome.
Next show: “HeadShots: Mental States” Oct 5-6, 2019. Artist talk Oct 5, 7:30 pm (mature audiences only for the talk). Atlanta School of Photography 1135 Sheridan Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30324.
And of course, anyone who wants to just give me a bunch of money or equipment or supplies can do that by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Website: www.danielleSrossphoto.com
- Phone: (404) 430-7457
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @danielleSrossphoto
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daniellesrossphoto.ross
Danielle S Ross