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Interview with Artist Lucas Renique Poole

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Arboles: Retratos fotograficos de Lucas Renique Poole at Azomalli Galeria de Arte Calle Gurrion #110 Centro Historico Plazuela de Santo Domingo de Guzman.

The exhibition runs from July 6 to August 11, 2012

This interview was conducted with Lucas Renique Poole while he was installing his extraordinary photos or 'portraits' of trees at the Azomalli gallery.

Interview by Steven Scott

CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR HISTORY?

I was born in Vermont in 1993 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I got into photography in high school. I went to Elizabeth Irwin High School and really liked the photo program there.

WHERE WAS THAT?

In Manhattan. I worked with a really great photography teacher there named Susan Now. I still work with her and she helped me with this project along with Francisco Verastegui who mentored me along. I lived between New York and Oaxaca. In the summers my parents and I would come to Oaxaca. I first came to Oaxaca when I was five.

ARE YOUR PARENTS ARTISTS?

No, they're both university professors. We came to Oaxaca and we lived in San Felipe del Agua. They hired someone from the town, Estella, as a babysitter and I became really close with her and her family and they taught me about local plants and ecology which led me to my interest in environmental studies and art in college. This exhibit at Galeria Azomalli I see as a mixture of both. Because it's as much about photography as the trees themselves. I call them portraits. Portraits in art are usually reserved for a face. I think the exhibit is about the face of a tree, about trees as individuals. Each photo is really about one tree. They're all about a single tree. None of the trees in the portraits are as they actually look. What I try to do is manipulate the trees actual physical appearance to highlight what is interesting about the tree and also the human environment around the tree. Oaxaca is a city with so many really amazing trees.

DO YOU USE PHOTOSHOP?

No, all of it is darkroom.

IS YOUR WORK ECOLOGICAL ART?

Yes, I think that is an aspect of it. I'm working a lot with Francisco Verastegui who is an artist and environmentalist. He is known as the environmentalist of Oaxaca. He's working on a project on the historic and notable trees of Oaxaca. Oaxaca has all these really beautiful old trees and they're not really cared for. Trees are set on fire. People hammer nails into them. Trees are routinely cut down without any thought. My photos are about raising consciousness about how important trees are. I think that what I do with manipulating the photos is showing the trees as individuals which makes them seem more important than just chunks of wood. The photos are aesthetic but they're also trying to show a personality. Trees need to be cared for. Oaxaca is a UNESCO city and the trees are a vital part of that just as much as Monte Alban. You have to take care of the trees.

WHO ARE SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHERS YOU ADMIRE?

Graciela Iturbide and Alvarez Bravo.

MAY I ASK HOW OLD YOU ARE?

Sure, I'm nineteen. I just finished my freshman year in college. I am interested in projects that encompass environmental history, politics, social sciences and biology while mixing in art and photography.

WHAT DO WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF YOUR ART?

A renewed appreciation for the trees.

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