Born in 1982 in San Francisco, California. Grew up in New York City.
Currently lives and works in Oakland, California.
So, Nora, what is your story?
Hmmm, which one? I like the idea of images telling my story rather than words right now. I am definitely a woman of letters–have been my entire life. Words have profundity, power, and romance for me, but once I picked up the camera seriously, I stopped relying on them to tell my story. I like some mystery and images have granted me that safe haven. I wanted to have fun and tell visual stories that do not convey one precise narrative, but that have an overarching unearthly one, rather. Maybe I was born with my images. I also like to think I have an unlimited abundance of them. Maybe poets feel the same way about words and how they play.
Why do you make the art you make? Why photography?
I have no choice now. I started and I can’t stop. I had obstacles, but I didn’t care. Some invisible, some real. Ultimately, I put myself first. Things fell into place, other things fell apart. It is interesting to see what remains when you find something you love enough to stop being afraid of your own power. As a child, I began making art by drawing and painting. As a teenager, I collaged, I wrote, and I modeled. Although I shot my first series of photographs when I was 13 in Mexico, and then more at the age of 16 with a female muse, my young twenties is when I became obsessed with photography. I documented everything, quite obnoxiously. I was one of those people who photographed every meal. I had a job at a boutique, working alone in this small white box that people rarely entered because it was quite exclusive. I sat in front of the Apple computer and took photobooth pictures of myself all day, literally for eight hours a day. I photographed my outfits, my boredom, my expressions, my drinking tea, my body parts. At the end of the job, I had tens of thousands of self-portraits to delete. I grew up in a family where photography as art was very normal, but I still never thought I was making any art with my photos. It took me until very recently to be loving and accepting of myself as a creative person. Photography is just an inexorable part of my life journey and self-expression.
What does your creative process look like?
I don’t force myself to do anything. I like to get hungry for it. I print-make and I take photographs, so I work on both at different times, which actually build my appetite for the other. I have found it really challenging in 2017 to stay artistically motivated, but I also consider it a form of resistance for me to persist. Continuing to explore myself through a personal lexicon of imagery is my life. I have been extremely picky this year when it comes to projects, both personal and paid, along with the energy around me and the company I keep. I feel very sensitive.
Where do you find inspiration?
In the company of women, through memory, in solitude, in nature, through escapism, in love.
What makes you most excited about what you do?
That I am an infinite source and nobody can tell me what to do.
What are your thoughts on being an artist in today’s world?
Well, I don’t really have any other time to compare it to. Really simply put, it feels good to do what I want.
Last but not least, what did you dream of last night?
I had a dream a couple of nights ago that struck me so I wrote it down. An old friend invited me to her apartment. She was reed thin and coy, her nervous laughter familiar, the same giggle reflex. I noticed she wore makeup at home, like a mask. I wondered for whom. We skimmed the surface of things for as long as possibly bearable. On her nightstand were negatives. When she left the room, I looked at them in the light and realized they were us, young. I can’t remember if they were originally mine or hers, but there they were somehow waiting for me. I absentmindedly and yet intentionally took them. They went in my purse quickly. I left soon to relieve us both of the same discomfort, that of knowing someone for so many years, yet not knowing them at all. Her image: frozen in the doorway, smiling not falsely, but concealing a range of sadness, frame so gaunt the doorway could overtake her and it did, sucking her back in. “Goodbye. See ya later.” I blew down the street feeling free and light and a little wild. I also felt a twinge of guilt wondering whose negatives they were really, and why didn’t I just ask for them.
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