Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Dahlgren.
Amanda is a San Diego-based photographic artist whose work opens dialogues about the way we live as a society and what we choose to value. Her work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the US and in print and online publications. Amanda is also an educator and mentor whose mission is to challenge and inspire everyone in her care to find powerful and authentic ways to express themselves through the photographic arts. Amanda is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Grossmont College, a Gallery Educator at the Museum of Photographic Arts, Co-Lead Producer for Open Show San Diego, Contributing Writer for Lenscratch, and Chairperson for the West Chapter of the Society for Photographic Education.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a photographer and I use this artistic medium to question what we value as a society. My goal is to present an open-ended concept that allows viewers to think more deeply about a topic than they may have previously. In this way, my artwork opens conversations with the viewer. Sometimes this happens literally if the opportunity presents itself, for example, at a gallery space when I and the viewer are both present or when two viewers talk with each other. But more often these conversations happen in a very subtle way; I think of it as a gentle nudge towards opening someone’s perspective. In a time when we tend to polarize into our strongly-held opinions, my goal is to open doors to thoughtful introspection which will hopefully lead to more measured dialogue.
An example of this is the work that you see in this article, from my series titled “Pre-Abandoned”. I photographed new residential construction in master-planned communities in San Diego County in order to question the way we choose to live as a society. There is a rich tradition in the medium of photography of capturing the abandoned home, often showing the physical marks of the deterioration of the inhabitants’ lives. By photographing the beginning of this lifecycle, I bring into question the way these homes are built, marketed, and sold. Where others see the hope and possibilities of a new home, I see “pre-abandoned spaces:” the American dream promised by the model homes unfulfilled by financial missteps, broken relationships, or simply the realities of the hardships of life.
More recently, I have been working on a new project tentatively titled “Allegiance” for the last year or so. It started because I was thinking about my own experience as an immigrant, moving to the United States when I was the same age as my daughter is now. One of my vivid memories about those first few days after arriving in the middle of 4th grade was learning to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t really understand it and it made me uncomfortable to be making these promises so formally. I was curious about my daughter’s experiences, especially since she is at a language immersion school and regularly recites the US Pledge in Spanish. When I’m finished with the project, I hope the work brings up questions about immigration and about what it means to be an American.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
In my life as both an artist and educator, I have learned that the typical journey starts with emulating other photographers who you admire. This is totally natural and can even be very useful as you start to develop your own voice. But the sooner you begin to make your own unique photographs that authentically reflect what you are interested in, the more rewarding your journey will be. Make photographs that mean something to you. That passion will not only fuel you, but it will make your work more interesting to others.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I show my work around the country at various venues, but there is nothing planned in the San Diego area at the moment. The best way to support my work is to talk about it. Start those thoughtful conversations sparked by something you saw in my work!
- Website: http://www.amandadahlgren.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amandadahlgren/