Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Weitz.
Erica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in a town called Dubuque in Northern Iowa on the Mississippi River. I was a really active and curious kid. I spent a lot of time playing in the woods and looking through my Dad’s National Geographic collection. The world felt very far away.
At 17, I found myself in Haiti with a camera in my hand. It was a turning point for me for many reasons. I realized I knew nothing, and that photography would be one of my teachers. It allowed me a direct connection with people and it gave me some much needed perspective. Each roll of film stored information about things I wanted to understand, so I kept shooting.
I earned my BFA in painting and photography while traveling every chance I could. When I graduated, I moved to Uganda and got a job taking photos at the newspaper in Kampala.
I was on the road traveling for years before I moved from Mexico to Los Angeles. I found myself getting disenchanted with digital photography because I was spending a lot of time at the computer editing. About five years ago, I went back to the beginning of photography, the 1850s with wet-plate collodion.
I taught myself everything I could by watching You-Tube videos and reading chemistry forums. Collodion requires a massive amount of light. I had huge warehouse windows in DTLA, so we would chase the sunlight as it moved across the walls and shoot long exposures. I used a marijuana grow tent as a darkroom, and it was trial and error from there. I fell in love with photography again.
Today, I have a proper darkroom and lighting system. I love pushing the medium to see the ways it can bend reality.
My first solo gallery show PRIMORDIAL ORDER opened a couple months ago at Lethal Amounts. It’s a conceptual photography show about the perpetual motion of the universe from order to chaos explored visually through alchemy and numerology.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Far from it. Challenge seems to be built into the operating system of the human experience. I’m sure it’s smooth sailing for some people, but most of the artists I know are trying to sync with the surf. It’s a battle every day to keep your head above water, but we’re out here regardless because creating isn’t something we do its part of who we are.
The creative process can be brutal. It’s a struggle dealing with rejection, self-doubt and a million other emotions that try to get into your mind every day. Artists are professional problem solvers and once you hit that flow state it makes it all worth it.
The arts itself are up against constant challenges. School art programs are being cut around the country, DIY artist spaces are being shut down, studio rent is out of control, and there is a major lack of representation for women and people of color in galleries and museums. Things need to change. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for people out there keeping community arts alive and working for change on a systemic level.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My most recent work, PRIMORDIAL ORDER, is a collection of large scale wet-plate photographs. The series is a journey from order to chaos as seen through the human experience. One being order—a single exposure, two a double exposure, three a triple exposure, up to 13—chaos, being 13 exposures on one plate.
The show was shot intuitively and experimentally. The process itself was the ritual. I am incredibly fortunate and grateful to work with people I love and trust. The power and energy of everyone I photograph keeps me endlessly inspired. We closed the show together with ritual lighting of over 150 candles.
Currently, I’m working on a series of assemblage sculptures and focusing my efforts in the darkroom, experimenting with spirit. Photography is an energetic reflection. It is internal energy manifesting in an external form, and capturing that in chemical silver. It can be used as a divination of sorts, like tarot or tea leaves. We all need a mirror.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have a memory of the first time I experienced lucid-dreaming. I was young, young enough that my Mom still woke me up for school in the morning. She came into my room and woke me just slightly enough to tell me there was a snow day and school was canceled, that I could sleep in. I fell back asleep and went lucid.
The next day, another snow day, and the same thing. The day after that, more snow, no school and by this time I was really having fun being in a lucid state. I didn’t know what it was then but it felt like one of those choose your own adventure books, like I could control what happened next. I remember thinking it was so cool that I was excited to get back to school to tell my friends dreams could be played like a video game.
- Website: www.ericaweitz.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @erica.weitz
- Facebook: @ricoweitz
- Twitter: @ricoweitz