HappeningsCLT is currently crushing on Lydia Bittner-Baird, a somewhat new-ish addition to Charlotte. We’re happy to have met her, and excited that she’s part of our creative community. If you missed seeing her work at C3 Labs recently, don’t worry: read on to learn about her upcoming projects.
HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words?
Lydia Bittner-Baird: Jumping right in.
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
LB: I have been called “artist” since I was little, having been a dancer and performer long before I made my first picture. Truthfully, I still don’t feel like one, but I really love what I do and I am in dedicated pursuit of creating conversation through photographs.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
LB: I’m inspired by the younger generation of artists creating work that is fresh and new while simultaneously honoring photography’s fascinating history. I really admire the work of Sara Cwynar because she manages to relentlessly create works that embody so many ideas at once and the work is also always strikingly beautiful. She just seems like an idea machine. Here is a link to an essay on her work that I revisit often.
I also love Matt Booth ‘s pictures. Each photograph he makes seems unassuming at first glance, but he’s left subtle visual clues that lead you down a rabbit hole of photographic history and theory. They only become more satisfying to interact with over time. Also, instead of making series of photographs, his body of work operates like a solar system where each work stands alone like a planet with its own unique atmosphere and qualities.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
LB: Most of my work lives online. I recently shot for STATE the Label and Proud Mary, and I use my instagram as a steady blog of current projects. Physical exhibitions include Viewfinder: Constructive Narrative at C3 Lab and an upcoming installation in the Project Studio Space at Goodyear Arts this fall. Please, stop by and say “hi!”
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
LB: When making a photograph, I usually begin by acknowledging the references that emerge from my interests and subconscious. These are sometimes the works of other artists, moments from my own life, or patterns repeated by subjects from image to image. For example, in my recent exhibition at C3, I wanted to create short narratives and install them in a way where they would be as interactive as a life size iPhone camera roll. I selected images that allowed me to play with scale (like a giant finger pillsbury doughboy-ing the belly of a passerby), gesture (like four separate photographs making one raised fist), and time (like repeated images throughout the installation or subjects shifting within a consistent frame). I definitely had Walker Evan’s Labor Anonymous and Paul Graham’s The Present on my mind while putting this work together.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas?
LB: I have lived in vastly different communities ranging from Auckland, New Zealand to New York and Miami. Charlotte in particular is a place I have been enthusiastic to call “home.” I love that it is such a hub in the making. The people I have met here, fellow artists, entrepreneurs, friends, and so on are humble, big thinkers. People who are making great work like Andy McMillan and Jeff Jackson are so generous about sitting down to have a conversation about art. Beyond that, I’m still discovering what Charlotte has to offer (it’s got a lot!). Most recently I’ve enjoyed the 80×80 exhibition at the Mint Museum, the opening at Goodyear Arts, and hanging out in SOCO Gallery‘s Bookshop.
HCLT: Speaking of, what book is on your nightstand right now?
LB: Now that I know George Saunders will be here in April, I’m catching up on his work! I’m currently making my way through Tenth of December. I also have David Campany and Brad Phillip’s writings close at hand.
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte?
LB: Anything on the menu at Woodlands. They’re also open on Mondays and don’t close till 10pm!
HCLT: What is up next?
LB: In the immediate, I am unpacking in my new digs in Elizabeth! Hopefully lots of grilling out and heading to the mountains with pals. Creatively, I am preparing for my upcoming installation at Goodyear Arts in the Project Studio Space and working on a couple of fashion assignments.