The next big project the Rebirth crew had in store for us was to take a portrait of a local artist. The artists participating were as varied as all of us. Painters, musicians, potters… all willing to spend time with us and allow us to photograph them. It was really incredibly generous of them and quite impressive of the team to coordinate. We drew names out of a hat and 0ff we went to interview our artist. The interview was 2hours of one on one time and we were not allowed to bring our cameras.
My artist was Cetin Oguz, a father, husband, painter and professor of art at Delta State University. Cetin, or Chet (the American version of his name) was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. He found his way to Mississippi via a swimming scholarship to Delta State. He has been here ever since and is now an Associate Professor of Art teaching Drawing and Painting.
Chet and I talked in his kitchen for about an hour, swapping stories about our kids (he has two boys as well). He showed me a few of his paintings and shared the process with me. We then went to his school, where he gave me a tour of the current project his students were working on. The project was to paint recycle bins that were going to be placed throughout the campus. Each bin was going to represent a painting by a master, and Chet assigned the students to the paintings he felt they would be best suited for. When I saw the garage space with all the paint cans and the brightly painted metal bins, I knew this is where I wanted to take my portrait of him.
The next day, we were sent to execute our portrait. But, of course, there was a twist. We were going to be paired with a Rebirth leader and their choice of camera. I drew Sarah Hodzic and the Holga camera. I love Sarah, she can do things with a Holga that are just incredible. But, to be honest.. shooting with black and white film with a Holga didn’t really fit into my vision for this portrait. What the heck, it’s about the experience anyways! I actually had a few frames that turned out, which was surprising because it was complete guesswork. I don’t have those to show, but I did get to use my camera to take some test shots .
The next day we headed back to Delta State University with the film that was processed, scanned, then printed to an 8×10 transparency to make a print. I was so excited when I found out we were going to be in the darkroom! And we were going to make prints using the liquid emulsion technique. Robin Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art at Delta State was kind enough to teach us the technique. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed being in the dark room again. It’s been years! Below are a couple of pictures of us preparing our transparencies for printing.
I noticed a patch of dandylions on the ground and I started to wonder what it would be like to be tiny fairy in a dandylion forest. So, I laid on the ground and took pictures of the dandylions. These photos sum up rebirth for me: magic can be discovered in what’s right in front of you if you stop and take notice.