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Your Source For The Arts In Atlanta

Stephanie Dowda DeMer, the new executive director of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, is a photographer and experimental media artist represented by Atlanta gallery whitespace. She is the inaugural Iowa Idea Fellow in Photography at University of Iowa, Idea Capital Grant recipient, and a Hambidge Fellow. Her recent exhibitions include CASUS at Eve Drewelowe Gallery, Sandbagging, and she is co-curator of Practicexpractice.

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My husband and I are both from Atlanta and we wanted to come back to this community. In March 2020, I was doing a fellowship at the University of Iowa and was looking for jobs in academia here. I soon realized academia was not where I wanted to be and that working for Atlanta Celebrates Photography would be my dream job. I never imagined it would become available; jobs in the arts are rare. But they offered me the job and I’m happy to be here. I have moved from Virginia to Arizona to Iowa and now back to Atlanta.

There’s always this squishy period after I move — what am I doing? I know it will feel weird for a minute, until I get into a rhythm, and get my studio set up and I guess that’s OK — although it doesn’t always feel OK.

My husband is a writer. He and I support one another in our own art practices, like shifting who is cooking dinner, understanding there can be long nights in the studio, long days for him in front of the computer writing. We have figured out ways we can sustain our practices through tumultuous change. During the shutdown, it was very scary. I set up a basic studio in my home until I knew it was safe to go back to my studio. Using my basement, a sink and the sun, I used some early photographic processes and continued my work.

During the pandemic I was concerned that what I was conceptually interested in as an artist wasn’t important. It can feel like art doesn’t have a place in those situations. But that is exactly where art is, in the minute turns and shifts and discomforts, and sinking into my own stories and perspective. What keeps me up at night? What do I find problematic and amazing about the world? I am making art from that. I have come to realize how pivotal the work of one artist can be. All these little shifts create bigger change. That is so easy to forget.

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