Penelope Stone is a photographic artist whose work primarily focuses on forgotten places and buried memories. She enjoys alternative photographic processes and looking for new ways to capture old feelings. She attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received a BFA in photography in 2017. Her work has been exhibited in the southeast and overseas in Lacoste, France and Cairo, Egypt. Currently, she lives and works in Atlanta, GA.
If you take a photograph you will never forget. how to grow up is a manual of moments that show the separation between fiction and reality, while being fictitious themselves. They’re manifestations of memories that have no basis in reality. They were constructed from items in the real world, so they existed, even if only long enough for one photograph. They exist like emotions in that way, fleeting and perilous and deceptive.
These images show the feelings, whether real or imaginary, of girls growing up. Being sexual, or sad, or lost are all very real and very scary feelings. These images offer no comfort to the confused girl, just let her know that she’s not alone. how to grow up is a field guide of what not to do and what you will do anyways.
Below, Penelope answered a few questions about her series and photography practice!
Why did you choose photography over other artistic mediums?
Photography allows for de-contextualization in a way most other mediums can’t. Photographs can be so enigmatic. There’s nothing that captures my imagination more than a mysterious photograph. Also, I love that a photograph can, paradoxically, both lie and tell the truth at the same time.
How did this series start for you creatively?
I did a previous series in black and white that explored ideas of grown-up femininity and the anger and frustration that exists with that. It was also very personal and I wanted to move away from that. I wanted to do another series in color that focused more on girlhood. There is something contradictory about childhood in that everything is simple but still confusing. I wanted to try capturing that feeling.
What reflections have you come to after finishing this series? If you are still working on the series, what revelations have come up while creating the series?
This is definitely still a work in progress. Since my series is focusing so heavily on growing up, I’ve started looking at my old journals and artwork to remember my feelings from adolescence. I also enjoy talking to other women about their problems from when they were younger. It helps me understand more universal struggles.
I’ve also gotten better at really looking at my environments and locating objects that I can use or repurpose in photographs. If you’re doing constructed images, it’s good to realize that anything in your life could be used for a photograph, even if you consider it mundane.
Do you ever get in creative slumps? If you do, how do you get out of them? If not, what methods have you created not to get into a slump?
Absolutely, I’m just coming out of a slump. After graduating, it’s definitely harder to find the time and space to create art, especially since I’m working on more constructed images. What’s helping is working in “easier” formats like instant film, which really frees me from getting too stuck in the methodology/technical stuff and allows me to focus on just creating. I write down or make thumbnails of future photographs, which gives me ideas for others.
An important aspect of getting back into creating, especially if you’ve been in a slump, is getting a better handle on time management. Set a number that you want to hit, or a goal you want to achieve, and work towards that.
Are there any books, movies, magazines or podcasts that you would recommend people to check out?
For this series specifically, I was really inspired by the films Sean Baker’s The Florida Project and Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and the books The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson.
Other movies I highly recommend are Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden, and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father. For books, I recommend House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I recently purchased The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death & the Ecstatic, which is both phenomenal and inspiring.
Lastly, what artists are currently inspiring you?
Ren Hang, Farah Al Qasim, Juno Calypso, and Justine Reyes.