Photographer and installation artist Lois Bielefeld (Art MFA 21) recently joined School of Art faculty Kaucyila Brooke in conversation about her life and work for the daily photography blog Lenscratch.
The interview offered Brooke’s insight into various topics, including the history of women’s and queer rights, her research-based approach to art making, how her dual roles as artist and educator inform each other, her definition of success, and more.
Brooke, who has been teaching in the School of Art’s Photo/Media Program since 1992, served as Bielefeld’s faculty mentor after the pair met in Chicago at a prospective MFA portfolio day. During her time at CalArts, Bielefeld enrolled in three of Brooke’s courses, each of which Brooke described in the Lenscratch interview:
Heroic Distortions: Visual Arts Narrative is a class I developed when I was teaching at UCSD and I continued to modify it over the years. I teach a graduate seminar called The Origin and the Copy and Other Strange Creations. The course addresses the status of the photograph, which has always been lower because it’s not one of a kind, it’s a copy. Teaching also informs my research about narratives of origin and originality. The landscape classes that I teach have to do with how we understand nature and how that understanding changes historically. In the class you took, Landscape: The Wilderness, we looked at the concept of the wilderness and its history. I line up ideas about discovery with the understanding that ideas and ideologies are historical. I’m trying to put a wedge between any kind of naturalization such as, “that’s the primitive brain kicking in” or “that’s instinct.” There is an ideology here. There is a power structure. The other class I teach is Landscape: and The Garden. The garden is manipulated but so is the wilderness. We are the ones that call it nature. We’re constantly interacting with nature. It forms us and we form it. We created the separation. The alienation is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Brooke is a Los Angeles-based multidisciplinary artist whose decades-long practice “addresses the politics of cultural production and sexual representation.” In 2021, she penned an essay accompanying Bielefeld’s video Between two mothers and two daughters, which was presented in her exhibition To Commit to Memory at the Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art in Milwaukee.
Read the full interview at Lenscratch.