Amy Wilson is one of the four artists featured in the PL130 Gallery's photography show Moms With Lenses. She makes images that explore the themes of identity and autobiography. The main inspiration for her work comes from her life. Read on to learn more about her and what it is like to photograph her children.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I live in Philadelphia with my husband and two children, two cats and a dog. I have a wide range of interests outside of photography and have worked in libraries, have written books for children, and currently am the owner of a small start-up ice cream business called Milk Jawn.
Q: What sparked your interest in photography?
A: I’ve been interested in photography since I was very young and my dad gave me a Brownie camera. Taking photos has been a way for me to tell stories and express myself, to examine the world and my place in it.
Q: How has the experience of motherhood informed or transformed your work as a photographer (and changed your life in general)?
A: Motherhood completely changed my life. It was overwhelming at first and completely shifted my identity and sense of self. Taking photos of myself and the experiences I was going through was a way to find myself again.
Q: What is it like to have your children as your subjects? How is that different from other photography you’ve done in the past?
A: Having my children as subjects in my photography has been both a joy and a challenge. I love that the act of photographing them allows me to take the time to really observe them and to spend time with them. They don’t always love being made to participate, though, so I’ve had to come up with elaborate games or resort to straight up bribery sometimes to keep them engaged long enough to get that perfect shot.
I wouldn’t say that this way of working has been all that different from other photography I’ve done in the past. I’ve always worked in a kind of tableaux-style, using people and elements from my life.
Q: Has covid affected your family unit? And has it influenced your work?
A: Covid has most definitely affected my family unit in myriad ways. I think it’s something we’ll be unpacking for a while. It’s actually pushed me away from making photos in interior spaces. A lot of my work lately has been out in the world, probably because I feel so trapped after being stuck inside for so long.
Q: In your artist statement you say, “I created this series of self-portraits as a way to process my feelings as a new mother and to catalog its complexities.” What is it about the act of making photographs that helped you process your feelings that other mediums could not have achieved?
A: Photography is such a go-to medium for me and feels so natural that it’s hard for me to imagine working in other ways. It’s a direct representation of what we see, so probably the immediacy of photography is what draws me to it.