Kayla Ward: Shrieking Sisterhood

Shrieking Sisterhood is a series of photographs that confront the historical fallacies of female hysteria. Consisting of object studies, trail cam imagery, and landscapes, this series uses techniques pulled from documentary photography as a way to explore the relationship between truth and image.

Constructed faux documents loosely spread within the book aim to examine the darkly humorous, frightening, and often nonsensical past belief systems surrounding the female body. Once a legitimized illness, hysteria was believed to have been rooted in everything that men claimed to be wrong with women—down to the “scientific” notion that wombs wandered throughout the body wreaking hysterical havoc. Functioning as a response to these antiquated medical beliefs, Shrieking Sisterhood de-constructs a pre-existing narrative of misogyny. While the images remain enigmatic and unsettling on their own, combined with the anonymous reports and a non-linear map of clues, connections can be made by the viewer.

q&A

FN:

COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT ANY CURRENT PROJECTS THAT YOU ARE WORKING ON?

KW:

The project I’m working on is currently under the working title In a Chrysalis and I’m Snowed In. I feel this is working as more of an experimental body of work for myself before I get into focus on my thesis. I wanted to make something that works with the idea of dreams and how this can tie to the feeling of both loving and wanting to leave a certain place.

FN:

Describe your project in its current state and what you’d like its final outcome to be.

KW:

In its current state, I’m working with tableau imagery and collage. Overall I want this work to explore what the feeling of wanting to escape may look like to a person—but, rather than doing it physically, how it looks and feels when the escapism is more or less only through daydream. For the final outcome, I’m aiming towards a nuance that is felt rather than something that is read in a linear way.

FN:

How did you reach the conceptualization of your current project?

KW:

I’ve always been someone who has held really close emotional ties to certain spaces. Because of this, I’ve always found it hard to leave those places behind. I think most of us have this feeling growing up that our future selves will be somewhere bigger and better, but when the time comes all you long for is home. I guess that’s where the childlike quality of dreams comes into play in this work: how are my childlike ideas of leaving the place I grew up felt and seen as an adult?

FN:

Are there any artists that have inspired this work? If so, why?

KW:

One artist that has stayed pretty cemented in my practice is Alec Soth. I find myself more inspired by people’s thought processes than anything else, and he is the type of person that just never stops finding connections and is always curious. I’ve always looked up to that most, which might be why my overall inspirations are always changing.

FN:

Describe any challenges you have faced and any solutions that you have found to be helpful in the creative process

 I feel the biggest challenges for myself are time and over-conceptualizing—two things that do not go hand in hand. It’s hard to wrap your head around a concept when you’re always overthinking it in a small time frame. The advice I’ve gotten from others, and what I’ve learned over time, is to just go make something when you’re in that spot. You can always go back and see how the work fits in later.

FN:

Have you had any success in getting your work out into the world? Do you have suggestions for other artists?

KW:

Not so much yet. I’m always waiting to do this with the work I feel is completely resolved and finished, which is a blessing and a curse. I think the best way to practice this is just getting involved in the school and learning over time what you’re most happy with showing.

Kayla Ward is a Tkaronto/Toronto based artist and photographer currently pursuing a BFA in Photography Studies at X University. Interested in ideas of truth, perception, and collective/personal memory, her practice explores the process of mythmaking and the relationship between experience and image.

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