Born and raised in Austin, Cameron Coffman is an artist working in sculpture, photography, and video. With a careful eye on the quotidian, Coffman translates mundane moments and objects through her own logic. Coffman has a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and attended the Summer Studio Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015. A key young artist in Austin, Coffman has grown with the art scene and has been involved with nearly every notable institution in town. We spoke about her process, the crossovers between sculpture and photography, and her perspectives on Austin.
Gracelee Lawrence: Talk a little bit about the relationship between photography and sculpture in your work. Where do you find the crossovers and divergences in these ways of working?
Cameron Coffman: Lately I’ve started using photography as a sketchbook or note-taking tool for informing the next object I build. I photograph or record video to isolate something most often perceived generic or mundane. Parking signs, socks, water fountain, Tupperware, etc. Cataloguing the event might give me more time to approach the occurrence in a different way. For example, in Alex and Samantha, voices continuously loop asking how one another are doing. Everyday we are asked, “How are you doing?” and our responses lack individuality, which could lead to more questions about the person. The images or videos recorded are a reminder tool to reconsider my approach to everyday tasks and present them in an unexpected way.
GL: Your sculptural work combines (seemingly) found objects with very specific built components. Do you relate this to your background in photography? It seems to have a correlation.
CC: I apply subtly in the content of my photographs and sculptures. Through the formal flattening of objects within photography, I isolate what is peculiar in the image. How do objects seemingly fit together in a photograph and can I make this occur in sculptures? In the n0?a2x series of photographs I question the necessity of the location of the content. Why do fake leaves and real leaves live next to one another and what do they cover? Can hair mimic vines? I then cohesively pair objects together in order to understand their pairing. The resulting juxtaposition can be an open-ended suggestion about feelings of loss or longing around the disorder of the day-to-day.
GL: Much of your work deals with quotidian, everyday moments and materials, yet pushes them into an amplified/distended place. It seems like you are acting as a magnifying glass. Ehhther is a good example.
CC: I’m interested in how small discrepancies found in the mundane or generic may reveal more about our individuality. In Ehhther, we’ve all experienced hair in a place it should never be, whether our own or a stranger’s, and dirty wads of gum on the bottom of our shoe. It’s the problem of what we perceive to be the misplaced, or out-of-context object. Where there are diminutive decisions I make in my daily routine, I wonder how individuals often overlook these actions and what those decisions might say about us. How might chewing gum reflect boredom and in turn privilege? Who is granted that time? Or maybe your breath just stinks.
GL: As a native Austinite, what is your opinion on the art scene in Austin? How have you seen it change in the past several years?
I’ve grown with the Austin Art scene. Growing up, going to school, and staying in Austin has been both beneficial and hindering to art making. The lack of a commercial art market allows artists to take more risks, and disregard part of the consumer aspects of making. I appreciate what DIY or house galleries have offered as an approachable platform for presenting work for emerging artists.
To see more of Coffman’s work, please visit her site.