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TRENDER: Photographer Scott Lapham

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Revealing the urban landscape: photographer Scott Lapham.

Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv offers glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene. Today, photographer Scott Lapham, whose work is currently on display in the RISD Museum's "America In View" exhibit. Lapham manages the AS220 Darkroom, works as a commercial and art photographer, and serves as director of the Photographic Memory Project at Broad Street Studio.

Local cred: Born in North Adams, MA, Lapham was drawn to RI when he attended RISD for photography.

1. How did your work get chosen for the new RISD Museum exhibit?

While I don't know how my photo was picked for the America in View exhibit, I am lucky enough to have several photographs as part of the RISD Museum's collection. They are urban landscapes of Mill Building Demolition, so this fit somewhere into the good, the bad and the ugly theme of American Landscape survey I am guessing.

2. What started you in photography?

As a little kid my father would turn our laundry room into a working darkroom on the weekends. In college I became interested in photography as a tool to document time. In one way or another my photo projects have the passage of time as a theme that runs throughout them.

3. How do you feel photography relates to landscape differently from painting?

The big difference between painting and photography in terms of landscape depiction in my mind is that people tend to believe that photographs are real and that paintings are fabricated reality. As silly as it sounds, I think of photography and painting in similar ways. Since I primarily work in photography I do think of it as a very personally subjective and manipulative medium, even thought I am pretty much a straight photographer who mostly still shoots film.

"Fishing," by Scott Lapham.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about working in Rhode Island?

The most rewarding thing about being a working artist in Rhode Island is that there are so many other working artists in Rhode Island. Here you are not starved for peers. You are not isolated in a community that doesn't understand you. Just the opposite.

5. What's the most frustrating thing?

The most frustrating thing about being a working artist in Rhode Island is that selling art work locally is not the easiest. We have and have had great showing and gallery opportunities, but turning that into food on the table is a challenge. Making money is not why artists make artwork, but it is nice when it happens.

6. What's your favorite local landscape?

Right now my favorite local landscape is the several blocks around my house in Providence's West End. When my kid was born a few years back I spent a lot of time walking him randomly around the streets just to put him to sleep. It was then that I started to see pictures in the neighborhood I had been living in for years. It is so full of urban history and lives being lived that it is a little crazy to realize I hadn't been seeing it all along. That is a big focus for my photography now.

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