November 2017

RESEARCH STATEMENT

Download: Ragland-ResearchStatement.pdf

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Current methodologies: documentary photography and photojournalism; social practice and interdisciplinary collaboration; narrative building and image sequencing; alternative processes; photographic history; appropriation and collage; installation; bookmaking

As a White House Photo Editor I had a front row seat to history. From photographs of President George W. Bush standing atop the rubble of the World Trade Center to images of President Barack Obama monitoring the raid on Osama Bin Laden, I have touched consequential pictures and witnessed firsthand the power of photographs to document, reveal, criticize and engender change.

Yet in our contemporary media landscape the meaning of pictures has come to depend less on authorial intent while being increasingly shaped by the reader’s personal contexts, beliefs, knowledge, or agenda. Therefore, in my creative practice I am less interested in making isolated, didactic, single works of art than investigating the polysemic nature of photographs. Through building relationships between multiple images, fashioning literary and art historical references, and forming ad hoc metaphors through the combination and sequencing of pictures, my goal is to create possibilities for narratives that challenge viewers and encourage contemplative self-reflection. My images are often augmented by text – including captions, narrative passages, personal reflection, or academic analysis – that illuminates, contextualizes, or complicates the works.

Aesthetically my work is rooted in my lifelong exposure to the landscapes, people, and customs of American South, and I am drawn to the unique vernacular language and tradition of storytelling that exists here. While my artistic practice includes a myriad of photographic strategies, my work is consistently imbued with my personal history and identity of place. With each project my choice of media process and craft serves greater content and conceptual goals while actively questioning assumed values in historical photographic discourse and engaging in social, political, or cultural critique.

Discontent with conventional solitary approaches to photography, I have recently sought opportunities to expand my work via tactics of collaboration and social practice. Through them I have discovered fertile ground for which to engage in trans-disciplinary topics, learn new research methods from my collaborators, question assumed values of photography, and widen my audience.


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