Artist Danielle Nelson Mourning’s objective is to imagine history as it once was and question how it has fixed within the present. Using a 4 x 5” still camera, Mourning re-animates her ancestry as both photographer and model, assuming the roles of her kin.
Mourning writes: “While I step into the homes and vestments that once belonged to my ancestors, I do not attempt to conceal the contemporary moment in which the photographs are made. By using color film and only myself as a model, I face the anachronism implicit to my process. It is clear that this is not the actual past we are viewing, that my invention and emulation evoke an imagined revisiting of one’s fiction and truth. The tension that exists in the space between document and fabrication are where these photographs reside.”
Danielle Mourning lives and works in San Francisco, CA. She attended the Art Center College of Design and received her MFA from the Royal College of Art in London, England in 2005. Upon graduation, she received the Deutsche Bank Pyramid Award for Fine Art, which both funded her work in Ireland and resulted in her work’s inclusion in their permanent collection. Mourning cites American conceptual artist Christopher Williams as a significant influence on her practice, whom she worked for while attending Art Center College of Design. Her exhibition history includes solo shows in Los Angeles and New York.
How did you find yourself in the arts – or how did the arts find you?
Taking photographs has been a refuge since I was a little girl. An art teacher in high school loved one of my drawings, submitted it to a contest and this gave me my first dose of belief in my Self. I was a very poor student academically. I tried selling art at Sothebys after college and soon went back to art school to study creating art and becoming a “professional.” I needed this structure. My parents are also very creative Spirits who had a big influence on how I view the world.
Who has influenced your career?
I honor Louise Bourgeoise who woke up my childhood memories. I speak to her quite often in quiet prayer.
Christopher Williams was a living mentor while I lived in Los Angeles for two years who supported my evolution. He saw beauty and resonance in my work more than I think I did at the time. Being that he is a conceptual artist, I became very prepared for graduate school in London.
When you hit a creative block, how do you move forward?
I go into nature. I look at old journals and look at my library of books. I ask questions with my right hand and write down the answer with my left. I am actually never blocked but more unwilling to remain focused. I have to set deadlines and long blocks of days to honor my practice and get completely undistracted. Once this happens, days can go by on my own happily and a bit crazily.
How do you define success?
Success is feeling dialed into my conscious and unconscious state of being, honoring my Heart and Spirit and not allowing fear to take any part in my life.
What do you want your work to inspire or communicate?
I aspire to create a practice which holds space for Emotion and the communions we have with our higher and lower Self (Ego vs. Love). I hope to open dialogue about Soul based intelligence. I am fascinated with how the soul’s embedded memories create such staggering contracts with who we surround ourselves with, attract and how we choose to live our life. The further such spiritual practice bends, the more inclined I am to meet humans with a desire to know their darkness and be willing to expose their vulnerabilities, shed and evolve into light. This is the most beautiful part of my life so far.
More at www.daniellemourning.com.