The Art of the Personal Project: Kate Woodman

The Art of the Personal Project is a crucial element to let potential buyers see how you think creatively on your own.  I am drawn to personal projects that have an interesting vision or that show something I have never seen before.  In this thread, I’ll include a link to each personal project with the artist statement so you can see more of the project. Please note: This thread is not affiliated with any company; I’m just featuring projects that I find.  Please DO NOT send me your work.  I do not take submissions.


Today’s featured artist:  Kate Woodman

Growing up as a kid in suburban New England, there was always something enchanting about the west. Stories of entrepreneurial pioneers leaving everything they knew and heading out into unchartered territory read like epic fairytales–the great American quest into the vast unknown, with trials and tests around every corner, and insurmountable obstacles overcome by singular resolve, spontaneous ingenuity and some good old fashioned luck.

I think like most Americans, I have a tendency to romanticize our history.  I am often confronted by a sense of nostalgia for times gone by—a compelling ache for experiences I did not experience and never will. This nostalgia has been an ever present theme in my life since childhood, and as an adult has manifested in my work—first as a historic preservationist and then as a photographer.  It inspires in me an insatiable need to preserve that which is lost, whether through the restoration of a house or the creation of a visual narrative—ensuring that its memory is honored and lives on.

But nostalgia is a funny thing. It is a non-experience, an artifice of memory, and like the great American fables of the west, and it glosses over the day-to-day minutia and trivializes the mundane.  But there is beauty in the quiet moments interspersed between the pivotal plot points. Beauty in the last rays of sun hitting your face as you pick fresh flowers for your table; in the dust filtering the light as you pull today’s laundry off the line; in the warped and weathered wood of the front porch railing; and in the cool night air settling in as you check your herd before turning in for the night.  This series seeks to marry the romantic idealism in my mind’s construct of the era with the mundane day-to-day life of the pioneer by creating a cinematic visual narrative.

The series in part is inspired by the location itself. The Dalles Mountain Ranch, located in the rolling hills of the Columbia River along the historic Oregon Trail, was settled in the 1860s. The land proved to be harsh and unsuitable for farming, forcing the settlers to ranch cattle rather than harvest crops.  It was eventually lost in the Great Depression and subsequently whittled away parcel by parcel until eventually purchased by the state and designated as a preserve.  The ranch is an archetype of the fate of American ranching and now stands as a melancholic relic of an irretrievable time long since past.


To see more of this project, click here.

APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s.  After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty.  Follow her at @SuzanneSeaseInstagram

Success is more than a matter of your talent. It’s also a matter of doing a better job presenting it.  And that is what I do with decades of agency and in-house experience.


Suzanne Sease

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