Interview by Kati Driscoll
Prior to the start of Fun-A-Day, we focused on some of our 2012 participants. Now that we’re almost to the end of the project, we thought it would be nice to reach out to artists who are new to this project. Kicking things off (and repping lower Delaware) is photographer Lauren Watras!
Photography is obviously a very important part of your life – when/how did your love for this medium begin?
I can’t recall ever not loving photography. I remember in 5th or 6th grade, one of my teachers asked what everyone wanted to be when they “grew up” (does that mean I’m a grown up?!?) so she could post the careers on the bulletin board. I wrote Photographer. My dad got me my own Canon SLR for Christmas that year, and it was a passion ever since. I would just walk around the yard, or down our street with 3 or 4 rolls of film just taking photos of everyday things. I was trying to teach myself to really LOOK at things I’d see every day, and try and find the beauty in them. Years later, I set my sights on art school, and graduated from The Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2005 with my degree in Photography.
Who/what is your inspiration these days?
What doesn’t inspire me? Generally, its landscape and nature, the beauty of the world outside. But I love portraiture too. My poor 3 year old daughter, Rowan, gets a little tired of me following her around with my camera. But that actually makes for more interesting portraits of her. I like to capture those natural moments, the ones that aren’t posed. Every now and then, I’ll ask her to cheese a little for me, but for the most part, the photos of her are candid…digging in the dirt, jumping in a puddle, reading a book. And those kind of images are my favorite. Thinking back on how I would always look for the loveliness in the ordinary, it’s something that I absolutely still carry with me during photo shoots.
Your project this year is a Farm-A-Day, what inspired this choice?
Local farms are fascinating to me. And I beyond admire the tenacity and determination of the farmers. Especially now, when family owned and run farms are becoming so few and far between. People see farms all the time, but if you step back and really think about all the hard work and perseverance it takes to make a living off of the land you own, it becomes a thing of beauty, really. I wanted to try and capture that spirit and grit in my photos.
You currently live in the Dover area, what is the art scene like in the lower half of the state?
There are several art leagues in the central and southern parts of the state. They focus on marketing local artists. The Dover Art League has a number of educational workshops to participate in, from pottery to painting. There is also a lot of focus on exposing children to art, which I think is an incredibly essential program that needs to not just continue, but thrive. They even have summer creativity camps available. With all the beauty in our small state, there can always be more art programs!
What has delighted/challenged you about creating art everyday?
It’s energizing! It has helped breathe new life into my passion for photography. Delaware Fun A Day has really gotten me excited about the arts again. When I was in college, I was surrounded with all types of new and interesting art, and this has really inspired me to enjoy that creativity again. The challenge to work on a project and create something different, something you’re proud of, on a daily basis has gotten the creative juices flowing again. It’s hard, but in a really awesome way. Even though I haven’t met the majority of the other artists participating, there’s a “we’re all in this together” vibe, that I’m really excited to see the culmination of on May 3rd. Rock on, Fun A Day!
We’ll be rolling out more artist interviews before – and after – the show! Stick around!