Thoughts on the Role of Community in Creativity

Dreams of Flight: Eagle’s View and Hawk’s View @2014

For me, photography is a very solitary venture. When I’m out in the field I’m usually alone – my friends have long since stopped wanting to hike with me as I might stop and sit for some time while the light shifts on an object.

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Mountain Mist @2014

I find solace in those long moments of engagement with my surroundings. Like a meditation the focused concentration of observing brings an inner peace. I enjoy that the camera gives me permission to stop, stare, and explore the smallest detail.

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A Rose is a Rose @2016

When I’m back in the studio reviewing and editing images it is again inside an envelope of silence with only the clicking of the mouse. I can get lost for hours comparing one image to the next – looking for just the right composition, focus and angle. I’ve stopped asking my partner “which of these do you prefer?” only to be told “I can’t see the difference.” Ahh, but I can.

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Pleasure Pier 1 & 7 @2016

I love to go to exhibitions of all kinds of art and though I am often with others, my engagement with a particular piece is again a silent conversation, a wondering about my internal responses to the work. I like to take in the pieces first, then read the artist’s statement. For me, the best art is evocative within an aesthetically crafted simplicity. I tend to be drawn towards abstract, high color and textured objects, but have certainly been moved by other types of work. In my home I prefer eclecticism in style and form; the combining of disparate objects into a satisfying tapestry.

Santa Rita @2008; Agave @2008

So with all of my natural propensity toward solitude, where does community come in? At some level I have always been looking for that loose collection of artistic souls. I grew up dreaming about the Bloomsbury Group (Langston Hughes, Virginia Wolfe, Vita Sackville West, John Maynard Keynes) and Gertrude Stein’s soirees with the Parisian art scene – Matisse, Picasso, Hemmingway.

When I stumbled into a Shootapalooza gathering ( I knew I had found my tribe. Here, in the midst of idiosyncratic free spirits who push their own artistic boundaries and generously offered knowledge, support and challenge, I found myself swept along into unknown territory.

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World’s Largest Cyanotype; Shootapalooza gathering in Johnson City, Texas @2015

This concentrated exposure to others so dedicated to their art provides a buoy and a mirror. My sense of the possible is challenged; my preconceived notions of how life and art are put together get pushed. In this setting I’m often immersed in an alternative process that is not strongly identified with my way of working professionally.

Cyanotype on paper: Feathers @2015

There is a freedom here; an unencumbered expression; no judgment. My self-critical voice is silenced and I find the joy of pure creation absent a required outcome. Here I’m both initiator and explorer in the ways of constructing meaning in art. I am the eager child at “show and tell” where novelty and imagination are at a premium.

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Cyanotype on cotton: Abstract 16 @2016

In community I am replenished in a different way than the meditative calm of observing. This enriching and jarring communion reverberates inside of me for many months as I translate this openness of mind and heart into my particular art.

New Worlds @2016


On behalf of the women of f/4 Studio, we ask you to help us welcome today’s guest, Vicky Stromee.

Vicky is a fine art photographer based in Tucson, Arizona. Her work “Dreams of Flight” was selected as Best of ASMP for 2015 ( This year her work is featured as a selection for the Texas Photographic Society’s print sharing program ( Vicky is represented by Cynthia Byrnes Contemporary Art out of New York ( and Afterimage Gallery in Dallas ( Selections of her work can also be seen at the Tucson Desert Art Museum ( You can also find more of her work at or follow her on Instagram @vstromee.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Role of Community in Creativity

  1. Pingback: Vicky Stromee: on community – shootaBlog

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