Amanda Koster

thoughts and experiences of an international documentarian

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Today I submitted work (this is one of the 3 photos, from ‘before harmony’ the morocco work) to “Hey, Hot Shot’ for the Jen Bekman Gallery. Very cool gallery in nyc. I visited when i was in nyc last week. Cool woman, had a look at my morocco work and recommended i enter ‘hey hot shot’. so, we’ll see. she asked the photographers to write a work statement and then a bio. I had a pretty hard time separating the two as my work IS my bio/life. however, it got me thinking about a few things from the early days, some good stories so i thought i’d post:

I was born in Geneva Switzerland, raised bit there, New York City, Westchester and Connecticut. I saw a Tide commercial when I was 6. The photojournalist was kneeling on the street in the rain when a car drove by and covered her in mud. The next commercial was for the Peace Corps. I thought those would be cool jobs.

I studied Anthropology at Southern Connecticut State University, with a concentration in art history and women’s and religious studies. I then picked up a camera to be a marketable anthropologist.

Inspiring was my families wealth of adventure stories. They lived all over the world and filled our home with books, art, and fresh food. They enforced manners and extreme television censorship (except: National Geographic, Wild Kingdom, Sesame Street) combined with encouragement to go get dirty.

Later influences were Barbara Kruger, Kathe Kolwitz, Freya Stark and Anita Roderick. Activists have influenced me; explorers, women who were focused, crazy and hard workers. Sebastio Selgado influenced me with his work and genuine vision for a better world.

I am over 18.

My career began when my friends came over unannounced. I was mortified at first when they looked through my work. No one knew I was becoming a photographer. I later studied photography at Creative Arts Workshop and ICP and master classes nationally.

My very first exhibition was at a dingy bar. One of the drunken regulars came around to look at the art beside my friend. They looked at the farmers hands in the photo and then discussed their own palms. The drunkard told my friend “I never really thought about my hands before” he used to be a boxer, and his hands were very rough. My friend, the sculptor spent his days in clay and his hands were smooth.

After University I went to Africa for 3 months. No one believed my photos were of Ethiopians because the people weren’t starving. I then realized photography was a powerful tool. People knew Selgado’s images of the famine, though weren’t aware of what else there is to see.

My personal work is focused on human rights and the beauty of diversity. I give viewers the chance to stare and connect. Study a nude, an orphan, widow, a musician. You’ll see your own fears, compassion, and joy.

Written by amandakoster

November 15, 2006 at 2:53 am

Posted in bio

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