Interview: Cheryle G. Galloway
Luca Curci talks with Cheryle G. Galloway during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 9TH EDITION, at Misericordia Archives.
Cheryle G. Galloway, born in Zimbabwe, is a US-based photographer. She has lived in South Africa and Brazil, before settling in the US. After completing a BA in Communication Science and becoming a mother, Cheryle was drawn to the visual art of photography as a medium for story-telling and interpreting her experiences. Through self-learning and participating in a series of Leica Akademie workshops, Cheryle’s work was surrounding nature, street and portraiture. During COVID, her work transitioned into self-portraiture allowing her to tell more personal stories; exploring issues of identity, gender and race. Some of this work was shown in a group exhibition in The Brick Lane Gallery in London. More recently, she has been returning to her love of street photography and the allure of being the unobtrusive observer. In her street work, Cheryle captures the quiet moments of intimacy, solitude and unspoken emotion which often go unnoticed in the tempest of daily life. Her work has been shown in Praxis Gallery, The Glasgow Gallery of Photography and the Los Angeles Center of Photography.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Cheryle G. Galloway – For me, art is an instinctual creative process, especially when it comes to street photography, it’s about sensing the moment and interpreting the experience of that feeling for the viewer. I think art is an answer, the manifestation to an internal question, a yearning to be understood and to understand; it’s a deep desire to connect with our humanity and the humanity of others.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
CGG – I studied Communication Science hoping to go into journalism, but I was drawn to visual story telling through photography. I did not study photography at school, I learnt the basics of how to work the camera through an online class and then attended workshops through Leica Akademie USA as I wanted more hands on learning experience. My work was surrounding nature, street and portraits, but during the pandemic I began to explore other forms of photography. Leica Akademie USA moved to online workshops and they were such a great incubation for creativity and experimentation. Also the participants were mostly women, whereas before the workshops I had attended were mostly full of men. The energy was totally different, less rigid, more nurturing and I think even the men attending appreciated that they had the freedom to explore their more vulnerable side. It was a deeply meaningful experience in terms of tapping into alternative techniques, such as self-portraiture, interpretive landscape and still life, a willingness to show vulnerability and be in front of the camera has opened up my imagination to more ways of storytelling through photography.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
CGG – I am a curious person by nature and love to walk around and observing people, nature and life. I enjoy looking for those moments of humanity and connection, seeing those quiet moments that occur in the rush of life. I love reading books about how the mind and spirit are thought to work, about human potential, understanding and knowledge. Of late, I have been reading a lot of feminist writers, Clementine Ford, Claire Bowditch, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and that has really influenced my self-portrait work.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
CGG – I think right now is an interesting time for artists because they were compelled to explore their inner worlds with the world being shut down due to the pandemic. We all had to look inwards and many photographers have documented this inner searching and self contemplation in their work. Also a lot of women photographers started to tell their stories because they were at home and this has been very inspiring to see. Social media has been a great way to connect with other artists and people who are interested in following your work and that is extremely exciting.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
CGG – When I started doing photography, my work was very outwardly focused on nature, street and portraiture. With all the things which have occurred during the pandemic – the death of George Floyd and global protests for equality and an end to racism, the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health because of isolation and loneliness and the grief of loss we have suffered has made me want to tell more personal stories of how these experiences can impact the individual. I’ve become more comfortable with photographing difficult emotions and sadness, which we all experience. And giving voice to women’s stories and journeys of self love through photography has become a major theme of my self-portrait work.
LC – What do you think about the concept of the festival? How did it inspire you?
CGG – In this time of the pandemic where a lot of people are exploring their inner landscapes and consciousness and how, we’ve somehow managed to overcome space and time through online spaces to connect and still be together, just not in physical spaces. Understanding that our thoughts and energies could go places our physical bodies were not able to, tapped into the idea of how do we experience and make sense of what is real and not real.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
CGG – The artwork presented in the exhibition explores themes of dislocation and isolation from people and our physical environment, discovering places in our environment that are connected to our inner world and the way we try to turn a blind eye to things our world we would rather not deal with and the spaces in-between spaces where reality and illusion merge.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
CGG – Yes, it is a great opportunity for artists to showcase their work to an audience, I am grateful to be able to share my work and for people to engage with it in a physical space.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
CGG – ITSLIQUID Platform provides a space where artists are able to share the work they are creating through its events worldwide, thus being able to access different countries where they may not be able to reach on their own. It’s a good opportunity to be able to connect so many artists from around the world in one space.