The Enid Crow Interview: The Disaster Series artist's ideas behind the screams

The Lamron sat down with Lori Barrett, an '89 Geneseo alumni, who goes by the name Enid Crow in her artistic endeavors. Her exhibit, The Disaster Series, is currently displayed at the Lockhart gallery until Feb. 16.

The Lamron: What was your inspiration to use yourself in your photographs?

Enid Crow: I studied theater when I was a student here, so when I started taking pictures it was the at the same time that I was taking acting classes. I was kind of interested in performing and in using pictures as a kind of way to perform that was different than the stage. I started taking some documentary-style pictures of myself, like if something really traumatic happened I would take a picture of myself crying. Then I went to graduate school at Northwestern University and I started to take pictures of myself that I used in performance pieces. And those pictures really started to tell stories. I was doing this kind of performance art with slides in the background and I went to work for a theatre in Florida, but that was in the 90s and it was around the time when the National Endowment for the Arts had this big hoopla going on about [performance artist] Karen Finley. So there was really nowhere to do performance art, the kind that I was doing. So I just started focusing on just the photographs and telling stories. The first really cohesive series of self portraits with a real theme that I did was The Disaster Series.

The Lamron: Why did you create The Disaster Series?

EC: It was in the break between 2001 and 2002 when I started the disaster series. I think that was after September 11th and you just saw these photographs of people's faces and I think what was so touching about them was really seeing the faces of the human being experiencing the disaster. It wasn't really seeing the towers on fire; for me it was really just the human reaction to that. So my first pictures in that series are a lot more serious than they turned out to be, because actually - eventually for some reason. They just evolved and became really humorous.

The Lamron: Where do you get the ideas for the characters you dress up as?

EC: They're archetypal people and usually the way I think of the characters is - well I'm interested in fashion, and not just high fashion. I love to look at what people are wearing, so a lot of the characters that I play come from an idea of a costume that I want to wear and then they evolve out of that costume.

The Lamron: The sky in each of your pictures is so unique and deliberate. How did you find those conditions?

EC: A lot of the pictures I took in Florida where the sky is just so open and there are all these beautiful clouds. My parents and sister live down in Florida and they live right near the beach so the clouds are always really gorgeous there.

The Lamron: You were a theater major at Geneseo. Did you get into photography here?

EC: I started taking pictures when I was 10 years old and in high school I learned how to use a dark room. I think that I became serious about it when I became a student here. I think that [Professor] Teres was so encouraging and I took a bunch of independent studies with him and I became really disciplined about taking pictures all the time. I think that being here kind of instilled that discipline in me that has stuck with me throughout my life.

The Lamron: Have you worked with any other mediums besides photography?

EC: I mostly work with photography but last spring I staged - it was kind of a performance instillation. It was a feminist fashion show, so the designers all came up with some kind of design that to them was feminist fashion. There was like somebody who did a dress made out of fetuses sewed together. But that was my first step outside of photography with something like that.

The Lamron: Can you tell us about your upcoming series, The History of Moustaches?

EC: Well I was having coffee with this art critic who was looking at my pictures, and he was like, "You know, not all men wear moustaches." But the only way I can make my face feel masculine is with facial hair. And he was just babbling and he said, "…moustaches, blah blah blah…" and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, that sounds like such a great idea for a series!" So I'm kind of working backwards from contemporary time shooting myself as archetypal males. I've never really studied the history of photography and it's something I'm interested in so I'm thinking that as part of this project I'll be trying to understand better the kinds of techniques and the kinds of styles of photography that were popular at the time those moustaches were in vogue.