Artist Profile: Corey Coomes and Andie Girdon

By Ruby Love

As is the case each time it happens, Arts Walk was ridiculously loud and crowded. I knew it would be virtually impossible to see it all, and as I personally try to avoid large gatherings of people whenever possible, I made it my mission to see just one show – a collaborative analog photography series by Corey Coomes and Andie Giron.

I weaved my way through the strange mix of young kids with their parents and loud/drunk townies to the Mixx 96.1 building, ducking in through the doors with a sigh of relief. Coomes and Giron’s work lined the walls of a small room, illuminated by bright lights on stands aimed up at the photographs. I don’t normally prefer harsh lighting for photography exhibits, but the simple floor lights served to intensify the photographs’ rich colors; each one vied for my attention and I had to force myself to make a circle around the room instead of jumping to each new picture that caught my eye. The show was just up for Arts Walk weekend, and Coomes explained it as almost impromptu—everything had come together just at the last minute, in time for the hordes of art-lovers to descend upon downtown (can you tell I don’t like crowds?)

I caught up with Coomes later to talk about the project and his photography work.

First off, where are you from?

I’m from Dixon, Illinois. The childhood home of Ronald Reagan. And Andie was born in Illinois, but is from the Seattle area.

What year are you in school?

I actually graduated last spring, and Andie is a junior. I studied animation, photography, movement, and art therapy.

What got you interested in photography?

I really liked it initially because it was easy. I think I was naturally inclined to use cameras, because drawing was more frustrating. I got disposable cameras as a kid, but it wasn’t until coming to Evergreen and seeing people working at Photoland that I got really serious about it. (Coomes still works in Photoland, as an Instructional Photography Technician.)

So, tell me about the project – you mentioned that it plays with the idea of fashion photography, and that you guys got started with a joke about how hard it was to take off a turtleneck.

Yeah, Andie has a specific eye for fashion, and is interested in alternative fashion. Before that I hasn’t looked at fashion too closely, so I was coming at it from a different perspective. (The Facebook event page described the series as “a tongue-in-cheek representation of fashion photography throughout the history of color film photography.”)

Are the prints in the series digital?

Three of them are (the yellow dress ones, and the foot-in-mouth one) but the rest were printed in the Photoland color darkroom.

All of the images are shot on film – what did you use?

We shot on Fujichrome Velvia and another type…all slide film.

What are your plans for new work/what are you looking forward to?

I’m interested in alternative chemical processes, taking digital collages, combining analog and digital art forms…even incorporating sketches and abstract drawings with representational photography.

Do you have any advice for other photographers/artists?

Do lots of research on other artists, and just get lost in the process of creating, almost like it’s a ritual.

You recently “started playing the Instagram game.” How do you view the intersection of analog art and social media? It’s a weird mix.

Yeah, I recently got an Instagram…people had been kind of pressuring me to get one and I was really against it for a while. I’ve been using it to kind of gauge interest even if only in a superficial way. It’s almost like a game…you give people hearts and they give you hearts. But you can’t say it’s not a prevalent tool in this day and age…it’s a weird thing to show mostly analog work in a digital space. I’ve mostly ended up networking with other people doing the same thing – there’s a weird connectedness there.