Disposable Life

Disposable Not Disposable

Kelly Kozma_small

Kelly Kozma’s work is intricate, well-crafted, and process-driven. Her textual and visual creations have been shown nationally, gaining attention from noted art publications like Juxtapoz and Knotwe. Kelly’s collaboration with Curate This has given new vitality to our Disposable Life prompt. In a style that reflects her artistic process, Kelly deconstructs snapshots of her life and establishes a new masterpiece. Check out her work currently showing at the Sonesta Hotel and view all of Kelly’s available work here.

-Amanda V. Wagner, co-founder

When approached by Curate This with a list of prompts for their blog, I immediately chose Disposable Life, where I was to document my life for a week through the lens of a disposable camera. I had wanted to do something along these lines for a while, so I thought this was a sign and went with it. In the beginning, I thought it was going to be all about the end game; looking at the photographs and seeing how I spent my week, as well as sharing that with everyone who was viewing. However, the experience of taking the pictures became equally, if not more important.

Because most of us are so accustomed to taking two, four, or twenty digital shots of the same images to get it all just right, the act of pressing down on the button of the disposable camera became very daunting. On the first day I think I took one, maybe two pictures. All of a sudden I became extremely picky about what I was going to document. Does this image accurately describe me as an artist? Did I already take one similar to this? What does this say about me? It shook my confidence in a way I hadn’t expected. Another thing it did though, was make me hyper aware of how I was spending my time, and in turn I had a pretty productive week.

I took pictures inside my studio, one at the mailbox store when I was shipping some art, a few at gallery shows and a bunch in Center City at an event one night. You will not see any of these. When I got the pictures back from the developer, there were only 14 in the paper envelope. The rest were unprintable; a fate granted often by disposable cameras. I was disappointed. I had spent a week carefully curating a selection of brightly-colored images for your viewing pleasure and barely had anything to show for it. I felt like I messed up the assignment and this was a reflection of my failure for all to see.

I had the pictures in my studio for a few days before I pulled them out again. I flipped through those 14 images many times before I realized that there was something to them. It was Philly. It was Fall. Were they the best renderings possible? Absolutely not. But I got my city for sure. A South Philly Halloween block party. Street art in NoLibs. The Silk City sign glowing at night. And even a glimpse into Caitlin McCormack’s show, Mnemosyne, at Paradigm Gallery.

To take this project a step forward I decided to incorporate the photos into a new piece of art. I’ve been working on a new series, where I punch out and then hand-sew thousands of paper circles together. The act of deconstruction, followed by rebuilding and strengthening, is reminiscent of the human experience and one that I depict often in my work. The finished piece mimics our memories, which are sometimes jumbled and hazy, sometimes crisp and clear as day.

These were not the pictures I set out to take, the palette I had anticipated or the experience I thought I would have, but as they say . . . happy accidents.

Photos by Jason Chen

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