Self-Described Hoarder and Still Life Photographer Uses Color to Organize Her Collection of Treasures


Brooklyn-based photographer Sara Cwynar’s ‘Color Studies’ series is a contemporary take on traditional still life – composed in a playful, yet meticulous way. Cwynar was partially inspired by her love of collecting, but also by her desire to investigate how the meaning of objects and imagery changes over time. We recently spoke to Cwynar about this series.


How did this project come about?
“This series was inspired by old or obsolete stock photos that I had collected – where something once desirable and cutting-edge had come to look absurd or even sinister. I am very interested in this idea, the way that images change over time and take on a life of their own, gaining or losing value as they circulate. I began the series as a means of delving further into this sort of image, remaking them under my own terms using my own collected materials. I used the category of color as a sort of visually immediate organizing principle through which to investigate this type of image using my own archive or collection.”


What were you trying to achieve?
“I think as you work different goals often come up, but initially it was to work through these discarded images using everyday or useless images and objects, to question what is worth taking a picture of and what kind of picture maybe have disappeared from our purview in favor of something newer. Also, simply as a means of organizing my personal archive or collection in a way that could open to larger ideas about image culture. Art is a means for me of working through my saved materials and my hope for it is that this private collection opens to bigger ideas through the making of work.”



Was there a process for sourcing all the items?
As I mentioned, I am a constant hoarder, I save things everywhere I go and then when I am making work I have this huge repository of saved images and objects to pull from. My studio is just packed with stuff. It comes from everywhere, the garbage, scraps of images from other projects, flea markets, by the pound stores, my parents’ basement.

How did you approach the arrangement of all these objects?
‘Largely just through moving things around in the studio for hours and hours! And I am trained as a graphic designer, I still work in this field sometimes, so I always tip my hand as a designer. I think that sensibility comes through in the pictures.


This post was contributed by Guy Merrill, Art Director at Getty Images London.


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