Blue Mitchell: ‘Whatever you are doing, do it for yourself.’ Photographer visits AC, inspires students

Image by Blue Mitchell

April 23, 2012

By Brittney Richerson | Ranger Editor

Image by Blue Mitchell

The Badgerama and Sneak Peek events had the entire Amarillo College Washington Street Campus charged with excited energy on April 19, but AC photography students were too busy seeing Blue.

Blue Mitchell, an independent publisher, photographer and curator based in Portland, Ore., came to campus to offer a special workshop, presentation and to visit with students about his career and artistic process.

“It’s a big deal for us to have other artists come in and offer workshops so we can see their processes and learn from what they do,” said Anthony Nations, a photography major and Photo Club member. “He is a really nice guy and amazing artist.”

Nations said having the opportunity to be around Mitchell was an inspirational experience.

“Around here, most photographers just do portrait work, so to see a successful artist doing stuff I want to do is encouraging,” he said. “It’s nice knowing it can be done.”

Photography instructor and event coordinator Rene’ West said she thinks bringing artists like Mitchell in to give workshops and presentations is a crucial part of her students’ education.

“It’s inspiring,” West said. “They get to meet someone who they admire and hear their stories about how they evolved.

“It also broadens their knowledge, especially living in a community where most photographers do portraiture. They learn about other media and how it can be artistically combined.”

West also said visits from artists like Mitchell gives her students a different perspective.

“There are four voices in our department and they end up taking more than one class from the same instructor, so it’s important for them to hear what someone else has to say,” she said.

At 6:30 p.m. on April 19, a meet-and-greet reception was held in the Oak Room in the College Union Building. At 7 p.m., Mitchell gave a special presentation in which he discussed his work, including the “Evanescent Energy” exhibit on display at the Southern Light Gallery in Lynn Library.

“I treat photography like painting,” Mitchell said in his presentation. “I like seeing the artist’s hand in the work.”

Mitchell said he is not a technical photographer. Rather, he uses his camera as a tool or a means to create.

“I am very much about using everything as tools,” Mitchell said.

He said even though he does not consider himself to be a technical photographer or artist, his education and understanding of formalities have enabled him to do what he does.

“Now, I guess I don’t consider myself to be technical because all of the technical stuff just inherently happens,” Mitchell said. “I just do it and don’t pay any attention.”

Some of his favorite works have been results of “happy accidents,” he said.

He said he always is trying to find ways to be less realistic and more expressive to try to convey how it feels to be in the environment depicted. He also is prepared to step outside of his comfort zone to keep up with continuously advancing technology and methods.

“I don’t want to pigeonhole my way into one way of creating and shooting,” Mitchell said. “I think I’m pretty good at evolving and I really enjoy experimental work.

“I will not be confined to any rules.”

Mitchell offers one piece of advice to young professionals:

“Whatever you’re doing, do it for yourself.”

“If you’re bored with what you’re doing, let it go and find something more free-flowing that works for you,” he said.

An individual never can truly meet their full potential if they do not take the time to find what they are passionate about, Mitchell said.

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