Woman Crush Wednesday: Erin Carr
Interview by Hallie Neely
Erin Carr is a 22 year-old artist and student in New York. She will receive her BFA from the School of Visual Arts this spring. The work featured is from her series The Privilege of Looking. You can see more of her work here.
How and why did this project begin?
The series first started with me just photographing men and exploring gender but naturally, it became more complex. I started to notice that the majority of the men I was photographing were white and I knew going into my thesis year that I wanted to start making work that expressed my views on social and political topics. So I started thinking about photographic archives in American history and the matter of fact that white men are the most visibly represented photographically, in addition, to dominating all other forms of representation. At first I didn't want to add more images of white men to this, I guess you could say 'universal photographic archive,' but I slowly realized as a white person I had the responsibility to point out the, excuse my language, fucked up shit white people have done. So if I was going to add to the archive it was going to be images that criticized the normalization of powerful white men and their actions in United States history from Chris Columbus up until now.
How has this project influenced your day-to-day life?
It’s made me more aware of myself, and politically just being a woman, and being a white woman, and how those identities intersect. Instead of just feeling guilty for the privileges I have and not doing anything about it, I started to educate myself. I paid attention to the news, donated to causes, listened, protested for the first time, asked more questions, formed opinions and became more outspoken. This project has made me challenge the general idea of some days feeling like I'm just another person living in the world. Then other days I think, well my voice is small but if I don't say something, who will?
Do you think this project has an end?
I've come to realize none of my projects end, it just forms into another project. So this project will end, but it’ll also be a starting point to another project.
How has living and going to school in New York influenced how you think and see the world versus where you grew up in the suburbs?
New Jersey will always have a soft spot in my heart. I enjoy visiting, in short intervals, and I’m grateful to have spent the first 18 years of my life there, but I’m glad I left. Change is important and the suburbs were just too safe and uninspiring, which is ironic because I'm now interested in ideas of domestic space and suburban living. Freshman year Me did not know what was in store for her, but I knew I needed to be in the city. This summer, I went to Taos, New Mexico and there is a legend that says 'the mountain will either embrace you, or spit you out,' and I think you could say the city has a similar effect on people. I didn’t realize how much the city affected my thoughts on the world until I went back to the suburbs for the summer after my first year at SVA. But you’d be surprised, going to art school, there are some art students that do not have the most progressive views- contrary to popular belief. But I think it’s important to be around people with different opinions because otherwise, you don’t learn anything, and you don’t move on and grow from that. Okay, end of the mom speech.
All in all, I’ve just become more myself here and I'm proud to say 8th grade Erin would think 22 year-old Erin is pretty cool.
Do you consider yourself a feminist and would you call your work ‘feminist art?'
Hell yes, I’m a feminist! For sure, I will not hesitate to answer that. And yeah, I think my work is feminist art. But I define my feminism as the belief in equality for everyone, not just equality based on gender. Identity is layered. As someone who believes in feminism that is intersectional, a term coined by civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It’s equality for race, and for people with disabilities, and religious affiliation, and creed, and class status, etc. That being said, if I’m going to make art about identity, I also have to acknowledge the fact that I’m not just a woman- I am a white, not ideally thin, able bodied, cisgender woman who comes from a middle class family, but also so much more than that.
How would you describe your creative process in one word?
If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
How to strategically shop at Trader Joe's
What was the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
On Photography by Susan Sontag and 13th by Ava DuVernay
What is the most played song in your music library?
Emotions by Mariah Carey
How do you take your coffee?
Iced with cream and a little bit of ice, please