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Conversations with Young Artists: [5] Liv D’Elia, PC ’19

In this series, Providence College Graduating Senior and Studio Art Major, Jessica Rogers interviews each of her fellow graduates on the occasion of their thesis exhibitions.

Technology is theme in both your thesis exhibition and some of your prior work. Do you think that your work makes a statement about technology, and how did you land on the strategy of using modern pieces and concepts in combination with old Hollywood surroundings?

I think that my work does make a statement about technology. The technology that we have today makes life so easy. In the past there weren’t iPhones for looking up information, sending instant messages or creating and posting videos. In considering young people who use their high-tech cameras to create and post videos to become “YouTube Famous”, it seemed that in comparison to 20th century celebrity figures, there is now a much swifter process to gaining “fame”.

Last semester I had the idea of photographing interactions among people and how technology has taken over our social interactions. But I found that I didn’t feel invested in that line of exploration. I’ve always loved black and white photographs, along with a fascination for the 20th century, so I decided to change course and combine the old with the new.

Please explain your process of photo-taking for your exhibition. Did you know which old Hollywood celebrities you wanted your work to be inspired by and then seek out individuals to mimic their style? Did you know people who reminded you of these famous stars?

I chose the figures based on the names I find most synonymous with 20th century culture.  Hailing from from the worlds of fashion, music and cinema these are figures we still talk about and regularly reference. I had these figures picked out, I researched their work and biography to understand their style and career. The process through which I then chose my models varied between each image. The models for my first piece, Flappers, were friends from home that I just asked on a whim. For Elvis, I chose someone’s boyfriend who I’d never met before because he resembles a young Elvis. For Stevie Nicks, I chose a family friend because she happens to love Stevie Nicks, plays the guitar, loves to model and has the same type of hair as Stevie. So, the models were based on either looks, same appreciation for the figures, or their interest in the project.

Was your choice to make all of your photos black and white rather than in color significant?

Yes, I wanted to mimic the quality and style of the photographs that I was using as an inspiration for my photos. I think that the point of mimicking the figures wouldn’t have gotten across if I didn’t keep them in black and white. Also, if it weren’t for the photographs that already exist of these figures, we most likely wouldn’t know them, or at least talk about them as much. By making the photos black and white, I’m honoring those photographers and the original works they created.

Was there any aspect of creating your thesis exhibition that was particularly challenging?

The most challenging part of the process was contacting people to help and working with my models in general. Most of the models had experience being behind the camera, but there were a few shoots where it was more awkward and they had less experience modeling. Another challenge was the weather. All of the photographs were taken in the winter, which limited the spaces that I used to create them. This project definitely forced me to get better at taking photographs indoors!


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