Although she’s an artist, Glenda Quinlin-Jacobs strikes me as more of an everyday person on an extraordinary mission rather than “just” an artist. This mission keeps her focused on her environment through the lens of what the past has built. In fact, she has created the perfect concept that captures her artistic philosophy. http://photo-losophyglenda.weebly.com Read on and find out exactly what I mean.
MICHAEL: Hello Glenda, I'm glad to be talking with you. I love your work. First off, I can take a good guess, but I'll ask anyway. What's the concept behind your term, "photo-losophy"?
GLENDA: Photo-losophy was the end result of several weeks of thinking and changed many times. It means to me a combination of philosophy and photography. I want my work to convey the meaning that there is more to life than today and tomorrow. There is yesterday and it gets lost in the world. I wanted to take photographs that make people think about yesterday. The old houses are more than just old houses. They once had a life ... a family, children, a purposeful use, but today they are like many things in society that get tossed aside.
MICHAEL: I love the fact that you say old houses once had a life. I'm a big architecture buff and I really think all structures have lives that most of us ignore. Should people pay more attention to structures or is it complimentary to be so accustomed to something that it fades into the background or landscape?
GLENDA: People should pay more attention to the structure. That structure serves a purpose whether it houses a business, library and most importantly a family. Family is important and protecting the family is also. I am not trying to make it sound like a structure is literally living but when it has a purpose, it lives through that purpose. It should not fade into the background; it should be preserved if possible. Some of the old houses I have seen had to have been showcases at one time and it was someone's idea of beauty and we need as much beauty as we can hold on too.
MICHAEL: Old buildings, barns, bridges, stairwells are definitely works of art, but what happened? Somehow society has lost sight of this even though a good argument could be made that architecture is now stronger than ever.
GLENDA: The old houses, barns and buildings are still standing just not used. The ones still standing, even though dilapidated have seen many, many years of history, be it remarkable or not. One house in my hometown (still standing) was used in the Civil War in the Underground Railroad. Can any of the new, stronger buildings claim such a legacy? Maybe years from now they will be able to. If structure is all people are after then just build yourself a box. Our minds need aesthetics, beauty, something to think about or we become dead inside. Use your imagination to create both the structure and aesthetic in buildings. Have something that is different from the run of the mill. Make people look and question, think, respond to it with feelings. Strength isn't everything. I hope this makes sense, I find it hard sometimes to put my feelings and thoughts into words.
MICHAEL: You're doing great. When you say our minds need aesthetics or we die inside ... Wow, so true, but isn't that exactly what's happening in the world today? I see evidence of this everywhere and it's almost as if society is eroding along with eroding structures.
GLENDA: I think society has shifted away from what is important. This could move into so many areas that I feel strongly about. I will keep it the area of arts funding. Those funds are cut daily. If we don't have arts and arts education our minds will die. Our children don't have the opportunity to see what the arts offer. Many parents don't encourage the imagination and creativity in their children. It is a horrible shame because they could have the next great artist, writer or poet. Our society has changed its priorities from actually living a meaningful life to making a living and keeping up or surpassing the "Joneses." Parents need to spend actual quality time with their children and not keep handing them "things." Things stifle thinking and originality. People are afraid of originality because they feel they will be excluded. Being excluded from certain things might actually be good for the soul. It could make a person stop and take a closer look at what they are excluded from and if honest, be thankful. Then the shift would start to swing back to what is really important.
MICHAEL: What role would you say your own upbringing played in your becoming the artist you are today?
GLENDA: Oh wow. I grew up with my grandparents as a role model. My grandfather worked and worked. He had polio as a child which caused him to limp and he was disabled, but he still worked. My grandmother was home and when we came home from school she was there with the cookies and milk. We weren't poor because we had each other but money was an issue. I had values instilled in me that seem not to be present today. It was fun growing up with my grandparents. It seemed there was always something to do. I would come home from school, have my snack and then watch cartoons ... Popeye, Tom and Jerry, etc. and Saturday morning cartoons. I was a tom boy and had an imagination. Because we didn't have money we didn't have all the toys and things to keep us occupied. We had to use our imagination and minds to keep us occupied. My grandpa had an imagination because he went to a fishing lake and we would ask him were he was going. "I'm going London to see the Queen", was his answer many times. We still had school plays and they were always there. I had a home, my grandparents, my sisters and my mom so I had everything I needed. I learned to appreciate what we had and what had been. Tomorrow was tomorrow and you got through today and worried about tomorrow when it got there. That was just the way it was. I never heard about problems and didn't know until much older what a struggle it had been for them. I wish I could have paid them back much more than I did because they were what made me an honest person.
MICHAEL: It sounds like the Midwestern landscape was a big part of your childhood. Did seeing old barns, buildings and the landscape help form your art today?
GLENDA: I suppose it could have. I think it is more the traditional aspect. Growing up in Missouri surrounded by farm country as the way of living even though I grew up in the city, I suppose so. I think maybe I would have loved to have lived in the country. We always raised a garden and my grandpa even raised chickens and rabbits so I had the farm in the city environment. People had to use the land to live and barns, silos and windmills were necessary to do that. Everything had a purpose and a use. There was very little wasted or thrown out.
MICHAEL: From viewing your work, your mission is clear, but I'm wondering ... How do you apply your actual photographic technique to express the message of your photographs? Or is it less about technique and more about the overall image?
GLENDA: I consider myself a traditional photographer. The overall image I am hoping is sending the message I want to convey. I work to improve my skills and move beyond just a photograph. I try to send that message by emphasizing the central aspects of an old barn or bridge. I take several photographs of each object at different angles and aspects. I have surprised myself when I have gotten them in the editing program and seen something I did not see at the time of taking the photograph. Just a small detail that has sent a clear message can be the focus of a landscape, bridge or barn. "The devil is in the detail" type of thing. The photo of the railroad bridge with graffiti. The graffiti itself sends a message. In that aspect, the bridge becomes the canvas for the graffiti.
MICHAEL: Finally Glenda, we're both art advocates and realize that art is about much more than just "pretty" pictures or things. When viewing your work, you want people to THINK and FEEL something, but what do you want them to DO?
GLENDA: I want them to appreciate the old barns, houses, bridges, wind mills, etc. To really look at those things and wonder about them. To think about them, not just drive by them without a second look or thought. Remember those things were vital and important at one time.
MICHAEL: I think a lot of people do appreciate these old structures, but we can always have more. Thanks Glenda.
For more on the work of Glenda Quinlin-Jacobs, check out her website at http://photo-losophyglenda.weebly.com