Insights is a FotoFocus educational initiative that supports the unique voices and perspectives of emerging regional artists through mentorship. Six artists developed a new body of work in collaboration with one another to bring their thoughts, feelings, and insights to life through a web-based presentation of still and moving images. Insights: Call // Response is a collaborative, photographic, and film-based project created during the Covid-19 pandemic featuring the work of these young, multidisciplinary makers: Sam Drake, Kearston Hawkins-Johnson, Ellis Johnson, Kyle Mace, Michael Sweeny, and Dev Thompson.

Artists’ Statement

In the distance, a call is made. Like a torchlight or bell tower bringing attention to those near and far.

During a year of isolation, Call // Response brought six creative minds together to form six creative conversations, using photography, video and text as links in chains of correspondence. Each work was created in reaction to its immediate predecessor.

Call. Response. Call. Response. A procedure of ritual communication.

We used each other’s work as fuel for our own creativity. Six people who may have never crossed paths formed deep connections, bridging the gap of space and time, relying on vision, not voice, to learn from each other. Grow with each other. See through each other’s eyes. Images captured in different time zones and diverse landscapes become a matrix of shared seeing and a jumping off point for personal branches of inspiration.

We peered through a screen and found community.

Developed in a time of unfolding and shifting world crises, Call // Response explores the many ways in which the global condition can intersect with personal narrative, while at the same time offering up opportunities for meditation and repose.

Each image, each video, and each text functions as both an expression of confinement and a means of transcending it—a shout across the digital chasm, an attempt at community-building when the possibility of spontaneous, IRL gathering had been foreclosed.

What looks like straight lines of communication are bending blind contours that trace the shape of our collective consciousness. Preoccupations reoccur, thematic refrains repeat.

Call // Response is a pattern of participation, creating songs of love, grief, change, connection, and mystery. Intimacy and courage. Growth and solitude.

With striking and unexpected echoes and contrasts, synchronicities and digressions, the collective conversations form a meditation on nature, technology, healing, and the fragile resilience of humanity.

Call // Response longs for the sight of eyes, for ears to hear, for bodies to feel. What you see is a chorus of light trails, fragmented shards that form a sweeping mosaic. Out of these individual calls, a dialogue with the whole emerges. Listen to each deeply. Search for the flame in the distance. Call out. Respond. Wake up, and repeat.

Written by: Sam Drake, Kearston Hawkins-Johnson, Ellis Johnson, Kyle Mace, Michael Sweeny, and Dev Thompson

Insights: Call // Response is presented by FotoFocus and organized by Film Curator, C. Jacqueline Wood. Insights is a FotoFocus educational endeavor developed to encourage young, emerging students and artists in the region.

Artists: Sam Drake, Kearston Hawkins-Johnson, Ellis Johnson, Kyle Mace, Michael Sweeny, Dev Thompson

Site Design/Development:
We Be Team (Josh Mattie + Chris Cliff-Perbix)

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