what’s in a name?
Jill isn’t on a hill, she’s in a house. Edie isn’t a model, she works with them. But these names could tell those stories just the same. This is an art interview of a psychologist whose art works have become the intimate thoughts in a coffee boudoir in Austin. Meet Edie Sunday, as in the weekend, Sunday.
e.s.: I am a doctoral student at The University of Texas. I’m getting my PH.d in Psychology and there’s also a Masters’ program connected to my program. I have a really good friend connected to my program and we hit it off immediately. I’m introverted and reserve. And, my roommate told me she had a surprise for me and wanted to know if I would do an art show at Friends and Neighbors, she friends with the owner Jill, and she said she loved my work.
c.: Wow, how did you feel about it when she told you?
e.: I love Friends and Neighbors. Its atmosphere is perfect for me. And, it’s how I’d expect my first photo show to go. It’s casual, it’s the kind of place where friends can gather and look at art. It’s a place where friends can gather look at art.
c.: I love it there. I discovered it in Austin during SXSW. I agree with your sentiments. I’m curious about your name, can you tell me a bit about it. Edie is in honor of Edie Sedgwick and Sunday was the only day that I could shoot because I was so busy.
c.: When did you begin shooting?
e.s.: When I was a little kid, my grandmother was a photographer, she pretty much raised me. She kept all these Polaroid’s around and she documented me. When I was about 5, or 6 I turned the camera on her; she was my first model. When I say grandmother, I don’t mean like old lady she was only like 44 then. I recently found Polaroid’s of her the other day and she’s dressed in these amazing suits. Every weekend she’d buy me a bunch of Polaroid film and I’d take photos of everything. I was a kid and I was playing around, but I had absolute fascination with instant film, watching it develop and the sound coming out of the camera. I always felt like life moved so fast, sometimes I’d just take a photo because it would represent a moment and write on back happened in that moment.
c.: Slowing down time with slow film, very cool.
e.s.: And it carried into being a teenager. My dad gave me a 35 mm camera. He was into wildlife photography for a long time. When he switched over to video, he gave me his canon rebel and I started doing the same thing, getting artsy, shooting in abandon houses. I never had subjects; I took photos of things, angles and I did that for a couple of years. Then, I got a Polaroid Land Camera at an antique store. The man who owned it must have been about 100 years old.
I laugh. She laughs.
e.s.: I would go in and go through the cameras every day. At that point, Polaroid was still manufacturing their film. I worked with it for a long along, pact film, peeling the photos out, shaking it to dry and then I went to college. It was like four years of my soul sucked away. It wasn’t a decision of any sort, I just stopped making art. I wasn’t writing and nothing creative was coming out of me. Every now and then I’d pick up a camera but wouldn’t know what to take a photo of.
c.: Wow. What a journey? How did you find your way again?
e.s.: Close to when I was 22, I met my boyfriend; he’s an artist and a painter. He saw my old camera collection – now I only have the ones I actually use. He said, “oh my god, why don’t you use them.” I said, ‘I don’t know.’ And I really didn’t. He encouraged me to.
c.: What was it like when you began shooting after so long?
e.s.: The way I saw the world had change. I didn’t see subtle beauty anymore. My brain was immersed in science. I forgot how to see things around me. Part of my journey was finding me as a child, the beauty and the obscure, to live in my imaginations and daydreams a bit. I got desensitized to beauty in the world. So, I was re-sensitizing myself.
c.: Ah, the creative recovery. This is what Julia Cameron talks about when artists need to find their way back to the inner child. There is so much play in your imagery, I love it. There’s an entire world. How do you make them come about?
It is play. It’s a really good word to use – play. One thing about me is that I don’t have a vision in mind before I shoot. I’ll have a new experiment in mind, a different film, chemical or technique. I could never do the same thing, as far as the interplay. I consider my models artists, the other artist in the collaboration. It’s spontaneous and spur of the moment, so we’re living real life and the camera is there. It’s collaboration in the truest sense. I operate the camera, but as far as the vision and jumping around and creating these things, that’s all them. For the most part we’re improvising, like improvisational dance. They are the artist; they make the photos.
c.: Do you know what kind of film you’ll use before going out?
e.s.: Yes, I’ll know what kinds of film I’m going to use. Today I’ll be like, I feel like a big empty field and I love it that way. I never not want to be surprise by the film I pick.
c.: What kind of film do you like to use?
e.s.: Every kind of film, I have a thing for obscure film. I like crazy color, color infrared film, super rad, many which haven’t been made in a while. I like to alter my film with chemicals, film soaking, as it’s often called, although I don’t like the name. I like to use milder chemicals, natural acids like lemon juice, white wine – you can get different colors, crazy streaks and dots. I also use mixed media, water color and acrylic ink to add to my photographs.
c.: So then, this is more art, than just photography? You’re not just taking a photograph, you’re making an image.
e.s.: I consider myself an artist, not a photographer. There’s a big difference between photography and fine art. And, I mostly identify with the artist community. I don’t give a s— about technical stuff.
You can get inspired by one moment and one thing. And that’s the importance of keeping a compact camera with me. I’m connected to my surroundings and the craziness going on in my brain.
c.: Those moments, they are everything. Tell me, what is your relationship with coffee?
Coffee? I love coffee! I love tea. But I think coffee more right now, because its cold. A Flat white is my favorite thing in the world. Wake up every morning make a coffee and then I get a flat white. I love the pre-decorations on the foam. Coffee, it becomes a ritual.
What is the importance of art to a coffee shop for you?
Two fold – its’ to support the artist. For people who would have never seen your work otherwise to see it. We live in a world where your art exist only online or a gallery. A lot of us want to be able to share what we make in a casual way, give a piece of beauty we make with the local community. There has to be another place that exists. And, it’s the coffee shop, the alternative to Instagram and a gallery.
c.: What does it feel like, to now have your work in this intimate space for friends, and neighbors?
It felt a little funny at first. It’s like, ‘that’s me, my intimate stuff on display.’ But I’m super grateful and excited. It’s so different seeing an image in person than it is on Instagram, it excites me, that they get to see the real life thing.
For more of Ms. Sunday’s work, visit here.