in the studio

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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I would go back and do it again. I don’t miss the exams, papers and student loans, but I loved college. I spent many late nights in the art studio creating, practicing, and collaborating. Sometimes I would convince a friend to come visit me in the darkroom where I was blaring coldplay, feist, or ace of base (I really went through an ace of base phase) and printing my latest project. I rocked my chemical baths back and forth and watched my floating paper slowly come to life. The image would appear softly at first and creep over like a fog until it covered the whole page. I embraced collaboration and new ideas and soaked in the surrounding energy that was created from all of us creating art.

The day to day studio work built community, and within that community a place to explore artistic expression. As we graduated and began to move on, trying to incorporate art into our jobs and daily lives we were challenged to work outside of the structure we had known. In the real world, where making art is often a means to an end, it takes a real effort to create and explore with out strings attached. It still takes discipline, support, and probably a few late nights pursing an idea to it’s end. It takes effort to connect with a community that allows and encourages you to do so.

Last week I photographed a printmaking class at Houghton College for an article they will be including in their upcoming magazine. I sat down with Jillian Sokso – who authored the article and taught the class I was visiting – and she briefed me on her main points. She spoke about process, community and the act of creating as a form of worship. It pushed me to think about the very things that I wrote about above. It reminded me that community and art is created through the day to day tasks that make up life.

It’s unrealistic to think I’ll have the same experience as I did back in college, but it’s just as unrealistic to think that experience is limited to a specific time in life. I remembered that it was not just the art studio but the network of friends I built in college that allowed me to grow during that time. I still have that network of friends and even though we are many miles apart they are still there offering a needed opinion, encouragement, or observation. They have more stories to tell about me and art than I can begin to write down… and I don’t know where I would we be without them.
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