By Kim Lyle
Geren Heurtin’s interest in photography is a natural extension of the artistic qualities expressed by her mother, a talented oil painter.
“It’s something that always interested me,” explained Heurtin. “I remember being 11 and my mom, also an artist, telling me you have an eye for this. It was something that I always enjoyed doing and I’ve ended up getting really invested in it. “
Her undergraduate thesis show, On The Verge, was recently exhibited at the Elevator Projects headquarters in downtown Baton Rouge. The show included a series of photographs depicting personal objects from Heurtin’s home arranged as a tumultuous still life gone awry.
There is tension present within each image, a push and pull between objects. A sky blue fabric finds itself tied around the neck of a candlestick holder, leaning precariously atop a table. Or a clementine orange scarf drapes a shelf, holding delicate vases and teacups strewn about.
Each image leaves the viewer curious as to what happened just before the photograph was made.
“I tended to gather things that I thought were interesting,” said Heurtin. “I started playing around with how things looked. It’s a lot of experimentation and putting things in different places. I try to write a little bit after the image is finalized, look back over it, and think about what I was thinking at the time so I can figure it out for myself.”
Many of the objects featured in her photographs contain meaning that stretches beyond their physical qualities.
“My grandmother traveled all over, so we have these really interesting, strange things that most people might not have in their houses,” explained Heurtin. “That was definitely something I started to hone in on. It’s also a way of me connecting with her because she passed away when I was very, very young. I tried to carry that feminine presence throughout all of the photographs.”
Heurtin’s previous work has consisted mostly of black and white images, so using color in her most recent series came as a welcome change.
“The same way I think about the composition, I think about the color,” said Heurtin. “So I start with one thing and think about what would complement it. Many times I try two different things, so when I’m editing I can look at what works well together. “
Heurtin also considered these formal aspects of the work when translating her series into an exhibition.
“These images are all very different and I intend for them to be. I want each image to be it’s own thing. After the shooting process, which is the more conceptual with at least with this particular body of work, I consider where things are going to go. Putting them in an exhibition I think about more formal qualities.”
In thinking about how she hopes others approach her work, Heurtin shares a common sentiment of wanting viewers to really look and not just pass idly by photographs.
“I would want someone to go up to these and hopefully look at them for a while and question why would someone do this, what happened, to just question it,” said Heurtin.
Looking towards the future for any young artist can be both scary and uncertain at times. Heurtin has already begun to carve out a path for where she would like to see herself and her work in the coming years.
“Teaching is something I’ve started to get into, I don’t know if I’ll do it in the long run yet, but it’s definitely enjoyable,” expressed Heurtin. “I know that I want to go to grad school. That’s in the future, but it will probably be in a few years. I’ve been in school for a long time, so I need some time away. Basically, I just hope that I’m always making work. I’m most relaxed when I’m making.”