By Emma Mendelson
It is easy to take a city like New York for granted when you have been so desensitized by its seemingly endless stream of activity. It should be mandatory that New Yorkers take a leave of absence every few months to remind themselves they aren’t, actually, located in the center of the universe. For those who emigrate into this black-hole of an island, however, it is more common to not only get an appreciation for The City, but for where they left in the first place. Cameron Johnson has created an artistic statement that highlights this appreciation.
Cameron had been a resident of Minnesota until the age of 20 when she moved to New Jersey, where she began to nanny. Being a nanny is something that has gone in and out of her life but Cameron needed something more fulfilling to funnel her energy into and so she started taking classes at night for photography. Her relationship with photography had only started a few years earlier after receiving her first camera from a stranger on the beach at the age of 18. This was followed by a move to Brooklyn and time spent at the Pratt institute studying photography for another three and a half years. Her main influences are Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and William Eggleston. She is inspired by the way they capture people in the street and convey whole life stories through isolated moments captured in time.
Her project, “Minnesota”, is a nostalgic look at a lifestyle she takes with her into the big city. Cameron says “…their way of life is more serene and slow…” and that comes through in the photographs. She says, “Milking cows at four in the morning and at four in the afternoon is just, like, a regular thing to do…I like that way of life….” The project is very nostalgic for Cameron. It reminds her of a slower-paced, friendly lifestyle and she takes little pieces of these roots with her to plant in the soils of a more metropolitan lifestyle.
The project highlights a “…struggle with the balance of ‘I love being home’ and ‘I love being away’.” As much as she enjoys the sights, sounds, and sensations of the Minnesota day-to-day, she still desires the buzz and hum of the city. This struggle is very relatable. It is often that younger people feel torn between the comfortable feeling of being close to someplace familiar and the yearning to search for a new home base that they can shape into something more individual than personal. She says, “It’s what I love about it and what I am challenged by.” But even with this internal struggle, she finds great inspiration in Minnesota from the landscape and those people who milk the cows at four in the morning.
Currently, Cameron is working on a photo project of the block she lives on in Bangkok, another ethnographic project on an area she feels an intimate connection to. Following this, her first, solo show, she is also planning on using this portfolio to apply to the Walker Museum in Minneapolis. To see more of Cameron’s work, check out her website, http://cameronjulie.com/.