Conversations with Young Artists:  Catherine Day, PC ’19
The work for your thesis exhibition came from a recent period studying abroad. Did you have a concept of your thesis going into your time abroad, or did this concept develop as you lived in Italy and observed the activities in particularly tourist-filled areas?
I was aware that I needed to shoot my thesis while I was abroad simply because of time constraints, however I did not have this particular idea in mind when I headed overseas. I was actually a little worried by my lack of a concrete idea that I wanted to explore. I had previously completed a project based on human’s obsession with possessions and materialistic culture and I knew that that could be a fruitful direction to take. After spending a few weeks in Italy I realized how people where interacting with the art and using it as their own personal backdrop which gave me the idea for this series of photographs.
Is there anything you learned in the process of making your thesis exhibition, either about yourself or possibly society in general?
I’ve learned that technology and social media really have drastically changed our society in a short period of time. Obviously they both have advantages, but this process really made clear one of the most crucial downsides to technology; the lack of real connections. It was hard to watch these tourists obsess over these pieces of art solely for the purpose of capturing a photo with it. I believe art is one of the most important forms of human expression and connectivity and to watch these people walk by some of the most profound pieces of art in the world and not be effected or engaged with it was in many ways heart breaking.
As some of your photos differ in size of print, is there significance to the scale choice of your photographs?
There is significance to the decisions around the scale of the pieces. There was a long process of selection and editing from the larger group of images I captured and from that group, some images had such an impact that I wanted to extend by printing them in larger format. Ultimately, the ones I chose to print larger where photographs that I thought could draw the viewer in more and place them in my shoes, as if they were witnessing this event first hand. I wanted the viewer to feel as if they where a part of the photograph and perhaps promote them to think how they might act differently if they where in that scenario.
Do you think that the concept of your work, which highlights responses to ancient art and architecture in the current digital age, is unique to the popular tourist areas where they are shot? Is this a universal behavior by humans no matter the location?
I think that the behavior I capture in my photographers is more compounded in tourist areas, but that the phenomenon is universal. I traveled and shot in many different countries and cities in an attempt to show it is a universal pattern of behavior, that is not stopped by location, gender, race or age. For my thesis I narrowed done my lens to just how we interact with art in relation to social media. However, I personally believe this happens with everything that we deem beautiful or significant in our world. Another example is our environment; we love to take pictures of beautiful places and we glorify them but do we ever look beyond the surface and take action to preserve our plant? Mostly we do not. We simply take some photos, probably include a selfie or two and then walk away.