Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ena Cisewski - Photography

Ena Cisewski

City/State: Rochester, Minnesota

I developed an interest in photography in 2004 and began attending the Dakota County Technical College Photo Finishing Program that fall.  I had no previous training and that is where I learned the technical basics of exposure, composition, and design.  In 2006 I stepped up my learning process by attending the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.  For 14 weeks I was a student in the Summer Intensive Program.  I also attended the 6 week Digital Intensive Program that fall.  For 5 months that year I was surrounded by 110 fellow students and multiple instructors who “lived” photography 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It was during that time that I refined my skills and began the development of my personal style of photography.

Since that time I have continued my education by attending many photographic workshops including a one week, on location workshop titled “Zen and the Art of Photography.  This workshop was through the Split Rock Arts Program of the U of M and taught by world renowned photographer Doug Beasley.

I moved to the West Coast in 2007 to pursue a photographic venture and spent 14 months traveling up and down the Pacific Coast.  6 of those months were spent living and working in Sequoia National Park in California.  I returned to Minnesota in 2008 and settled in Rochester.  I have since spent many happy hours traveling the southeastern portion of our state with my camera.  I often find myself noticing how closely this portion of Minnesota resembles the foothills of the western mountains.  How lucky we are!

I have been involved with several galleries, have won artistic recognition, and am a member of 4 artistic organizations:  Association of Photographic Arts, Red Wing Photo Club, Red Wing Arts Association, and South Eastern Minnesota Visual Artists (SEMVA).

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

In the past I have primarily been a landscape photographer.  My focus has been on the natural world around us, and the beauty and magic it is often easy to overlook.  However, I have always also been fascinated and intrigued with the beauty to be found in signs of age---rust, decay, corrosion, distortions, etc.  In my most recently completed project I worked entirely with images that are beautiful examples of aging.  Within the past year I have also become very intrigued with the artistic combinations of my images and the frames used for them so for this just completed project I worked carefully to provide those perfect combinations.  To add even more interest, many of my completed works include smaller framed images layered upon other images.  I’m very excited about the 3 dimensional pieces completed for this body of work.

How did you decide to become an artist?

During the summer of 2004 I was on an occupational hiatus.  We had closed a furniture restoration business of 13 years the autumn before and I couldn’t decide what direction I wanted to take in my life.  During those summer months I worked with the book  “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron  Ms. Camerons work focuses on promoting “creativity as a spiritual practice” by encouraging the reader to complete tasks, activities, and personal introspection.  I feel that working with her book I put strong focus on my artistic self. One of the suggested tasks was to compile a list of 100 possible careers that would intrigue me.  Within the top third of that list I had placed “photographer”.  After thinking more about what those items on my list said about me I realized that I had desired to learn photography for a while.  I wished to find a way to capture the images of our magical world seen during my travels.  With just a little research I discovered that Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount (only 4 miles from my home at the time) offered a degree in photographic imaging.  I was enrolled as a full time student by September of that year.  That was my introduction to the basics of photography.

Have you participated in any educational opportunities that you feel were instrumental to your growth as an artist?

In addition to my basic photographic education that I received at DCTC I have participated in two outstanding programs.

For 5 months beginning in June of 2006 I attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime.  During that time I was surrounded by 110 fellow students and 25 outstanding instructors all of whom were as fascinated with photography as I.  We lived photography 10 hours a day, 7 days a week through an intensive program of photographic instruction.  I returned to Minnesota believing myself to have become an artist.

During the summer of 2010 I attended a one week, on location in Cloquet Minnesota, workshop titled “Zen and the Art of Photography”.  Taught by world renowned Minnesota photographer, Doug Beasley it was a workshop offered through the University of Minnesota’s Split Rock Arts Program (unfortunately the Split Rock Arts Program has since been cancelled).  A beautiful location and and amazing instructor.  Doug’s spiritual connection to the world and caring of his students was inspiring and once again I returned home a changed and improved artist.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

While all of my instruction has been very helpful it was the words of Doug Beasley that has had the biggest impact on me.  His advice was to take the time when out “making” photographs to make a spiritual connection with your surroundings.  “Slow down, breathe in your surroundings, feel the essence of the scene”. 

I found it very interesting that I had noticed previously that all of my best images were the result of my “listening” to my surroundings.  I have often felt that the subjects themselves had called out to me to grab my attention and when I take the time to listen I see differently and capture a more captivating image.  Doug’s words of advice reinforces that belief and takes it one step further.  Now I more consciously connect with the world around me.  I don’t always get more interesting images but my sense of connection with the earth has grown immensely.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I’ve tried a few different ways to sell my work.  Unfortunately with the popularity of digital cameras it has become much more difficult.  Many, many people think that they are artists.  Many talented hobbists don’t realize that they are.

Currently I am a member of both the Red Wing Arts Association and Semva (South Eastern Mn Visual Artists) in Rochester and display and offer my work for sale through both organizations and occasional group shows.  I also have a website   I have actively participated in Capture Minnesota which is a perfect venue for getting images noticed.  My next big push is a featured artist show at the Northfield Arts Guild starting June 12, 2013.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Of course Doug Beasley is included in this list.  I’ve enjoyed the clean and beautiful images of Craig Blacklock.  Jim Brandenburg is a huge inspiration.  In fact during my second fall semester at DCTC I did a variation of his image a day project  (they can be found in his books “Chased by the Light” and “Looking for the Summer”)  Not being nearly the talented photographer that he is I didn’t take only one image a day, but the process of forcing myself to find an acceptable subject each day was a  wonderful learning tool.  Bernie Saunders provided the photographs for a lovely collaborative book with his mother “The Grace of Ordinary Days”.   I absolutely love the study of the ages of the flowers shown in his macro photographs.  There are also dozens of photographers that have done beautiful work and share them through the Capture Minnesota website.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

Wow- this is a difficult question.  I don’t often make a conscious effort to go to any given spot to see art.  One of my good photography friends often invites me to go to the Minneapolis Photo Center for photography exhibits.,   

I visit galleries and boutique shops as they cross the path I’ve chosen that day.  Occasionally I will participate in an art crawl such as those at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis , the southeast MN Art Crawl, or the north shore art crawl  

Also check out  I love art fairs held in conjunction with city summer celebrations.  Oh-and the Dakota County Fair .  The art entries there are wonderful. I love to see art this was because it leaves me with no expectations of what I will see.  Therefore I am free to enjoy every form of art I see from jewelry to fiber art to sculpture and everything in between. 

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

I have to confess here that I don’t spend a lot of time doing online searches.  If I’ve heard of something through another source I will go seek out the details online but otherwise I don’t go online much.  I usually depend on word from others or more often flyers, the Minnesota Explorer ,travel guides, and local visitor guides to give me ideas of where to go.  The one website that I’ve checked out often is Capture Minnesota   Not only do I see the photos but it gives me great ideas of where to go to take photos myself.
Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
I am one of two artists featured in an upcoming show at the Northfield Arts Guild titled “A Voyage of Discovery and Reflection”.  It is being featured June 12th through July 21st, 2013.  An artist reception will be held June 14th from 7-9pm.  
My portion of the show will feature images all taken at a ghost town in southeastern Montana.  Bannack State Park is a well preserved ghost town and I spent 2 delightful days capturing images of the surfaces in the buildings as well as the distortions seen in and through the aged glass windows.  In addition I carefully combined one-of-a-kind frames with each image.  I also combined artistic pieces by layering framed images upon larger images creating unique studies of the town and it’s individual layers of age.

Image List:
1. “Peeling Away the Memories”         
2. “Once Upon A Time”
3. “Bathed In Sunlight”
4. “Tracks of My Tears”
5. “Dancing Light”
6. “Sweltering”
7. Image of artist

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