Interview with A. Retina Stewart, Class of ’15

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(photo credit Suzanne Darcy, BFA Photo ’15)

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY

I am originally from Houston, Texas (and very proud)!

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE BFA PHOTOGRAPHY PROGRAM AT PARSONS AND HOW’S IT GOING SO FAR?

I was initially attracted to the BFA Photography Program at Parsons because of The New School’s reputation for artistic brilliance and the broad network that comes along with Parsons’ name. I was inspired by the idea that I could be among the alumni to graduate from an institution that has such a respectable list of talent. My experience within the Photography Program has exceeded everything that I could’ve imagined! I have received amazing guidance from my professors who have mentored me to be able to approach “life­after­graduation” fearlessly. Also, my peers in the Photography program constantly spark my creativity.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS AND WHY?

My favorite class is Professional Practices. I now understand branding, promotion, and the business aspects of the professional art world. Knowledge I’ve acquired in this class makes me more secure about fending for myself as an artist. Real world experience is always appreciated sooner rather than later!

HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY?

I first became interested in photography during high school, but decided to take it seriously my first year as an undergrad at the University of Houston before transferring to Parsons. I always interviewed and photographed my friends recreationally, so the transition into seriously studying the genre was easy for me. I remember coming across the theory that it is easier to recall the details within a photograph of a person than it is to remember what they once looked like when you were face­to­face with them. That’s when I really fell in love. The idea of being able to freeze time and revisit moments whenever I want is a compelling experience that I am privileged to have.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN TEN YEARS? WHAT ARE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS?

I’m currently working on my thesis, “The Underground Project” that documents emerging hip hop artists. In ten years, I hope to provide a more structured platform for the artists I work with to be seen/heard whether through a non­profit organization or a recording label of some sort. Regular international travel is definitely in the plan as well. My primary goal on this Earth is to inspire others among my journey; wherever it takes me.

WHAT KINDS OF THINGS SPARK YOUR IDEAS?

Words and how people use them really spark my ideas. Many people don’t take the time to really understand the words they speak, but when people truly do; I notice. I find that very special. So, more than anything a deep conversation or a powerful song really moves me.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS AN ARTIST? AND WHAT ARTISTS HAVE INFLUENCED YOU THE MOST?

Unique perspective and substance inspires me the most as an artist. There’s nothing more powerful than an artist who believes that they have a new way of seeing the world and invite the world to understand their point of view along with them. The most influential artists to me have been Wangechi Mutu, Kid Zoom (Ian Strange) and Tupac Shakur.

www.ARetinaStewart.com