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Interview with photographer Matt Storm

From the series, What Started It

Photographs that prompt us to explore who we are, and how do we know

Matt Storm is a photo-based artist, making photographs, performances, installations and sculptures in Washington, DC. Storm’s work engages with the theme of identity, and the question “who are we, and how do we know?” He approaches this question through self-portraiture, and visual topics including transgender and queer issues, family, and community. A few of his projects posted on his website are strong examples of his approach to image making and the level of engagement chosen between artist and viewer. The work is intelligent without coming across as too high-brow or confusing.

Storm’s images range from dead-pan self portraits to tongue-in-cheek humor in his approach to exploring issues of self. I hesitate to pigeon hole his work as specifically about gender, or transgender issues because Storm’s work shares a commonality about issues of self that everyone faces; the universal question of how one sees themselves in relation to others or themselves. His series Act of Looking is a project comprised of self-portraits, which is very direct in the exploration of his sense of self. Another of his series, Passing of a Patriarch, is a project with multiple layers of meaning and reflection. The exploration is less blatant, but in the series Storm honors his paternal Grandfather by making images in the role as his grandfather; wearing his clothes, and reenacting scenes from his daily life. These images are self-portraits as well, but Storm is in character as another person. The resulting snapshot, or photo album theme, series explores issues of self, family, identity, role models, and masculinity.

From the series, Passing of a Patriarch

From the series, Passing of a Patriarch

 

From the series, Passing of a Patriarch

From the project, Chest

From the project, Chest

In a conversation with Storm at Filter Photo festival 2017, I found him very open, engaged and passionate about his work. His work is thoughtful and honest, even if it means that not all the answers are there for the viewer. The broad exploration of ideas often leaves viewers with loose ends, or more questions. Most of the meaningful projects I’ve encountered do this.

Much of what Storm addresses in his artist statement resonates throughout his photographic projects. Storm writes, “My practice is anchored in the question, ‘Who are we, and how do we know that?’ I explore identity through what I know best: myself, my family, and my communities. While thematically, my art explores identity; topically, my art depicts transgender and queer issues, family and community, and the physical self. These issues are portrayed in my photographs, installations, and sculptures.”

From the series, Act of Looking

From the series, Act of Looking

Storm focuses on the aspect of accuracy and realness in his work as well. His artist statement also addresses the different aspects that media bring to the table. “A photograph references a specific time and place”, Storm writes. “Emphasizing realness through photo-making is an important part of my practice, especially when it addresses identity, transgender issues, and queer issues. In our digital world of infinite subjective truths, highlighting these perspectives is important.”

His sculpture series, Chest, echoes the ideas as well, while adding a different physical presence when encountering the work. Storm differentiates his 2D work from his 3D work by saying, “When I make sculptures, it is to set up a particular relationship between an object and its surrounding. The art exists in the specific space it is in — a gallery, a wall, a room, or just in the present. My sculptures give the objects control of how they interact with a person’s gaze, situating themselves unavoidably in the field of view, rather than waiting to be glanced or stared at.”

Storm concludes his statement by saying, “Some viewers may see my work and feel it is in a different world from them, and that they are far away from it. I hope they find my work a productive space to explore the issues it depicts, perhaps even as they feel insulated from them. If my work is successful, I hope people will begin to encounter these issues in their own lives, and within themselves.”


A couple of upcoming events and opportunities to Storm’s work in person are:

Chest — solo sculpture show opening at Somerville Media Center Gallery on June 1, 7–9 pm. See opening details and event here. Show features the CHEST sculpture series, and will be up June 1- June 30, Somerville MA: https://www.somervillemedia.org/

Celebrate — group show curated by Liz Faust and Adam David Bencomo, in conjunction with Baltimore Pride, featuring 3 works from Act of Looking. Work will be up at Dooby’s in Baltimore, MD June 1 — June 28. Opening June 16 (during Baltimore Pride), details here.

Refuge — group show curated by Gerald Auten, featuring What Happenedfrom the What Started It series. Opening 5:45 pm June 26 at the Strauss Gallery in the Hopkins Center, Hanover, NH. Show will be up June 26 — August 26.

Sexual Orientation, Inclusion, and Gender Identity — a panel discussion in conjunction with the screening of Suited, the HBO documentary about a tailoring company that caters to transgender and non-binary clients, 6/6:30 pm, June 28, Somerville, MA — details here (free). Panelists include Matt Storm, writer Hannah Simpson, and educator and community leader Leo Morris, who will also serve as moderator. Organized by Somerville Media Center, HBO, and the City of Somerville.


To view more work by Matt Storm, please visit his website at www.mattstormphoto.com


Also published on Medium.


About Cary Benbow

Photographer, Writer, Publisher of WobnebMagazine.com

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