Tucson Grid Project 2.0: Interview with John Weatherford

21 Apr

Tucson Grid Project 2.0 is this Friday night. We caught up with John Weatherford, the mind where TGP originated, to find out what we can expect to see on the walls at 7:00 pm at 785 S. Columbus.n63901456405_7347

Dove&Snake: I know the basic idea for the TGP came from the Portland Grid Project. Where did the idea for adding in the emotions come from?

John Weatherford: Well basically, I just didn’t want the concept to get stale. In addition, I was trying to find a way for people to connect with the city more than just take a journalistic look at it. It is one thing for someone to wander the city in search of something that catches their eye and to take an “artistic” photo. It takes photography to an entirely different plane when you ask someone to look around them, to look for sorrow, and then be bold enough to photograph it. Couple that with the fact that there are almost no people participating that consider themselves photographers or artists, and we are really asking people to take a substantial risk.

D&S: Did you always plan to continue the project year to year? Did you always plan to evolve it?

JW: I guess I always assumed that it would catch on and that we would continue it. Then, after last year’s photographs and the bigger than expected turn out, it seemed like we had no choice but to keep it going. I think this is something that will be around for quite a while. We are already talking about next year and possible themes for following years. One thing we would like to see is more community involvement. I don’t want this to be a Second Mile thing. I want to see us own the event but I want to see the whole of Tucson walking the streets with cameras. I have already talked to a few parents about getting their children involved next year. I feel like there are a bunch of perspectives that are not yet being seen.

D&S: How are you planning to set up this year’s show?

JW: It will look very similar to last year. This year, however, instead of the photos being hung based on content of the actual image (i.e. graffiti, signs, traffic, landmarks) each emotion will occupy its own area of the room. So depending on the artist you may have 3 or 4 pictures that seem to be related or they may at first glance have nothing in common. This is why many people have included summaries of their photos. I am looking forward to seeing what the contributors thought of when they heard anguish or joy or passion.

D&S: Can you give us a sense of the photographers who are taking part in the show? Who are they?

JW: In a short description they are just normal people. Some are photographers, some are artists, some are mothers. We have students, teachers, bus drivers. People in their teens, twenties, thirties all the way through their sixties. We have representatives of downtown, campus, Vail, Marana, Oro Valley. It is a cross section of Tucson. We have some gaps but I feel very good about the diversity that is represented in the photographers. There are a few I haven’t even met yet. Part of the artistic ethos of Second Mile is a belief that we are all creative because we were created by the most creative being ever, and since we are created in His image we bear some of that creativity. I think you will see what I mean at the show.

D&S: You’ve been selecting photos for the show for the past week or so. What are your initial impressions of what we’ll see?

JW: I think from a quick glance the critic would say that this year’s pictures are “less artistic” than last year’s. I was careful to say critic because this experience is not about criticism–it isn’t even about art. It is about being in your city and loving your city. The thing I am loving about this year’s photos is the fact that they are incredibly well thought out, and they tell a story. What are we as a community if we cannot tell the story of our city? Last year the pictures were great, some were even incredible. This year, however, the participants were asked to do more than frame a beautiful or unique image of their surroundings. They were asked to process an emotion and convey it though a lens. That is not an easy thing to do. That being said, from what I have seen so far no one will be disappointed. There is an obvious intentionality to the photographs I have seen so far. The photographers took the emotions they were given and interpreted that through the city they live in. I would rather look at that than really well composed photographs of graffiti any day.

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