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Q&A with Photographer Carol Dass, from “Mother”

Carol Dass, Broken, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

We chatted with Carol Dass, Senior Instructor of Photography at UCCS, and artist behind the current Families exhibition, Mother: Photographs by Carol Dass. Mother is a series of just under 30 photographs taken by Dass exclusively of her own mother, and here she shares a little background about herself, her mom and the exhibition.

FAC: How and when did the photography bug bite you?
Carol Dass: My great uncle gave me a small Kodak camera when I was a young girl, probably around the age of 10. I was a very shy child who read a lot so being behind a camera, observing my surroundings through a viewfinder felt natural and safe. 
FAC: Your work focuses a lot on the human form, when did this become your main subject/theme for your art?
CD: I’ve always been fascinated with the human form, interested in body image. I feel that there is so much pressure within our society to live up to unrealistic expectations of themselves.  I’m 55 now, thinking about aging and reflecting back to when I was 25. I had no idea then how beautiful I really was. I find as much beauty in the face of a 90 year old as I do in that of a 12 year old. 

FAC: What was your childhood like?
CD: My mother was a very busy woman, and I think like most teenagers those were tumultuous times. Every family has dysfunction on some level. When I was a young girl I used to think all my friends had June Cleaver for a mother, that they had the perfect family life.

Carol Dass, Presence, 2011.

FAC: Why did you choose your mother, rather than a portrait of family or other mothers, etc?

CD: It’s my hope that the viewer will relate to their mother, aunt or grandmother on some level when seeing these images. Of course these images are incredibly personal, intimate moments shared between the two of us. As far as this show is concerned my mother has no idea yet of it’s scope. I initially thought it was going to be just one or two images. I enjoy photographing my mother in various settings, we have been traveling a lot together these past few years, and of course there’s no place like home!

FAC: How come you chose to not have children? 
CD: Women speak to their “biological clocks” ticking. I laugh and say I never had one installed! I love kids but feel I made the right decision for myself in choosing not to be a parent. I have no nieces or nephews. I have several close friends whose children I have had the privilege of knowing and watching them grow into adulthood. My husband and I have always had pets. I love my dogs like kids.

Mother: Photographs by Carol S. Dass
Feb. 23 – May 19, 2013

A Family Affair: Selections from the Progressive Art Collection
Feb. 23 – May 19, 2013