An Interview with Clinton Chambers

Clinton Chambers is an exhibiting artist in PCNW’s 23rd annual juried exhibition, curated by Kris Graves.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 2014
Digital C-print
Digital capture
Edition 2/4
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Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and when you first discovered your love of photography.

I grew up in Colorado but spent most of my adult life in the Pacific Northwest area.

Tell us about the work that was selected to be included in Distinction by Kris Graves.

My current artistic practice centers around creating images that depict my most cherished memories. These memories are constructed using common objects and materials that when photographed represent an idealized if not romanticized version of that experience. My approach to photography stems from a road trip from Washington to South Dakota that I embarked on with my closest friend in 2008. I relied on photography to document and imbue meaning on our travels. However, at the end of this road-trip my film was unintentionally destroyed. The sense of loss was so profound that it inspired my motivation for creating photographs that represent the past rather than obstructing my ability to experience fulfillment in the present. After that experience, I no longer viewed photography as a documentary device but rather an artistic tool used to create a perspective of the world that I felt I had lost. This body of work is an ongoing exploration of my memories.

Who / what are your biggest influences?

My most prominent influences are Walter Benjamin’s “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” which enabled me to cultivate a vocabulary for the work I was making. Benjamin’s essay gave me language to describe what I have been trying to permeate into my photographs. To me, the concept of an “aura”, is achieved when an image transcends beyond a latent memory and resonates with a more encompassing emotion such as loss or wonderment. I strive to create images that are signifiers of the emotions. My intention is to create work that embodies this central theme yet is still accessible within multiple iterations of the idea. The photographs of Hiroshi Sugimoto, Uta Barth, and Jeff Wall are also important influences on my aesthetic choices. Attached are some of the images that I have been making in isolation to further this ongoing concept. 

Are you making work in response to the current pandemic?

Yes! Check it out:

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