Petra Collins (23) is an artist and curator living in NYC. Shooting since the age of 15, her images are fueled by self-discovery and contemporary femininity which explore the complex intersection of life as a young woman online and off. Collins’s images offer an unflinching honesty, exploring the privacies and publicities of growing up as a woman at a moment when female bodies are ubiquitously hyper-mediated by Photoshop and social media. Collins has curated a handful of shows: Gynolandscape and Pussy Pat, New York City, NY; Strange Magic, Los Angeles, CA; Literally Bye, Art Basel, Miami, FL; and Comforter, SFAQ[Project]Space, San Francisco, CA. She has also given lectures at educational and art institutions such as York University and The Art Gallery of Ontario. Her work can be seen in publications including: I.D., Dazed & Confused, NY Mag, Purple, Interview, Vice and more. This year she released a short film series called Making Space about teen dancers, and has a curated book called Babe published by Random House out now.
Ever Gold [Projects] Exhibitions:
24 Hour Psycho, April, 2016.
Comforter, Curated by Petra Collins, March, 2015
The New Yorker, October, 2016
Artforum, Summer issue 2016.
I THINK ADVERTISING is actually a lot more open than it used to be. The artists involved have more creative freedom because the consumer is looking for something new—a new kind of authenticity.
I’m in a good position where I can do commissions that pay my bills; advertorial or fashion jobs allow me to go off and do my “art” pho- tography, but they have also creatively informed my other work, which focuses on portraits of girls and women. And I enjoy doing it; I’m lucky that I’m often able to cast my own people or choose my own lighting for commercial projects. I cast a Calvin Klein and Opening Ceremony shoot for Elle last year, which allowed me to put images of body types and skin colors that aren’t usually represented into the implied public sphere.
The art world is still very archaic, holding on to this notion that you can’t be an artist and do other work “outside.” Most people don’t make it to a gallery or aren’t able to access art books. But they still see images everywhere. You need artists to create ads and to en- gage this larger media landscape: They can push and change the entire field of images. We live in an increasingly consumption-based and image-heavy world. I don’t think that’s something that we can or should fight, but we should try to integrate different narratives and ideas. Commercials are public art.
In my teens, I was creating a lot of photos, but I never found a place to display them. I decided to make a website as a platform for myself and other female artists to share their work. Then I joined Instagram and Tumblr. The format of social media is very specific because of the cropping and scale, which changes drastically from screen to screen, device to device. An Instagram page is like a gallery. When you scroll through, either the images work together or they don’t.
When I was in art school, we were taught that you have to wait to be accepted into a gallery. You’re always waiting for permission. But sometimes it never comes, depending on who you are. Right now so many people who never had a voice are able to connect and build networks. Especially with Instagram, social-media platforms allow girls, women, and minorities to control the circulation of their work and to create their own pictures of themselves.
—As told to Isabel Flower
Petra Collins is an artist and curator living in New York.
At 23 years old, rising star Collins has amassed a tremendous and loyalfollowing (she’s been taking photographs since age 15) for her dreamy, pastel-hued explorations of female identity. An artist as well as a curator, actor, filmmaker, and model, the ubiquitous Collins is fostering a generation of self-empowered young women, evidenced by her 2015 book,Babe, the fruit of the girls-only art collective The Ardorous, which she founded during high school. Though best known for her editorial work (think Vogue, Interview, i-D) this month Collins fills Ever Gold Gallery with large-scale portraits of women crying—all shot collaboratively between the artist and her vulnerable-yet-brazen, brilliantly lit subjects. Last week, Collins debuted a music video for Carly Rae Jepsen onROOKIE magazine (where she was one of the earliest contributors).