Watch Me Work: Miranda Clark, Instructor, Photography

Miranda Clark Image

Talk that Talk

Art is a mode of communication, a way of talking — about who you are, what you think, what matters — to yourself and to others. It ignites and sustains conversations. Miranda Clark’s mode is the camera and her language is photography, a language that can only be described as pure wonder.

“I’m a very social person, and I want to communicate and tell stories,” says Clark. “Photography is a really great way to do that.” Sounds straightforward enough, but Clark tells stories that are visual and performative and a bit quirky. Think: a formal chandelier in the rugged countryside of another country. Or, inhabiting a different persona, an actress, perhaps, complete with wardrobe, back story and wrap party.

“It’s less interesting now to have categories than it was historically,” Clark observes. “Performance is embedded in photography whether it’s intended or not. I loved dressing up as a kid, so I incorporated it into my art practice. Being in a foreign country adds another level of façade to the photos.”

Clark’s sense of wonder translates easily to the classroom. “Teaching keeps me engaged — seeing a student discover an artist for the first time or start connecting dots that they hadn’t previously seen before. I love talking about art, and I have amazing students.” From darkroom to digital or fashion to fine art and commercial, CCS, Clark notes, is a “great playground, with structure and support” where students are given all the tools to find their own voice and decide how to apply it.

Teaching also is an extension of Clark’s own art practice, tending toward the interdisciplinary. She teaches “History of Photography” as a studio course; students build cameras obscura, create projects and connect their own art practices with historical concepts and theories. Her “Landscape as Fiction” course encourages students to write their own narratives. It is a photography course, but students also create soundtracks, and do site-specific work, so the course emphasizes — wait for it — engaging the visual language of photography and connecting it to other mediums.

But if you think this language is for the very few, or the fluent, you’d be wrong. Clark wants everyone to know, well, how democratic photography can be.

“I love photography because it’s something that everyone can do and everyone can see and understand. To really read a photograph, you do need the tools to know who the artist is, why they took it and what they’re trying to say. But at a very base level everyone can look at a photograph and come away with something. And that’s exciting.”