Pass or Fail: Photo Workshop at Brooklyn Creative


A scene from a Tiawenese dance club in Beijing, one of the photos Lowe submitted for critique

Class: Field Guide III: Personal Vision at Brooklyn Creative
Instructor: Kathleen Rugh

The team at Rabbithole, an art space in DUMBO, have come up with a novel approach to photo and printmaking-related classes: make ‘em short and sweet and focused and cheap. The idea is to spark creativity, not instruct over a longer cycle. Who has one day consistently free in an eight-week period, anyway? And who has a grand to drop on learning how to silkscreen? Or who for that matter can afford an MFA? If you’re looking for a way to make art and stimulate a conceptual approach to photography, Brooklyn Creative is awesome. Taking the class reminded me of my favorite part of art school–the critique sessions. A lot of the two-day intensive course involves presenting a personal project, analyzing your motivation, technique, and presentation, then mapping out a plan for long-term execution. The director of the space, Justin Lin, sat in and spoke in both sessions, offering advice on printing and locations to show work. There was also a crash-course in the history of photography that stoked the class’s creative fire with a visual history of artists’ work and inspiration. The classes are small, so expect to meet a few devoted characters looking for perfect lighting, a forgotten corner, or ways to tell their personal narrative.

The classroom is situated at the end of a maze of studios slightly below ground (thus the Rabbithole moniker) and feels a little like a dream. The class isn’t just an invitation to discus work for those two sessions, it feels more like a gateway into a creative community which is often lost on larger, more structured programs. Rugh had a very focused and encouraging presence and was really skilled at eliciting well-thought-out responses by students. For my project, I felt like she helped me see it as an actual piece rather than a weird smorgasbord of snapshots. And that’s what these courses can do–allow you to hone in on a project, find your vision, create work that relates to photography in a larger context and find some peers along the way who can push and shape future work.

Downside: As much as I loved the simplicity of two courses–it’s manageable–I was jonesing for a third. It would have been really nice to pay a tiny bit more for one more meeting to see a real arc in the work presented. I felt like our classes bonded and disbanded kind of abruptly. One more session might have helped solidify some new peers.

Bottom Line: It’s a clean, well-lit space to discuss art. The community aspect and creative stimulation make this art class less focused on actual production and more on conceptual progress. I would totally do this again. Pass!

Brooklyn Creative (718-362-2394) is located at 33 Washington St. at Water St. in DUMBO. Courses in photography and related fields range from eight weeks to three hours and start at $89.

Jaime Lowe is the author of Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB (Faber & Faber). Her writing has appeared in the Village Voice, Interview, Radar, Penthouse, and Sports Illustrated and she is the Executive Editor of Go magazine.

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