The artist that I heard speak was Debbie Grossman. Grossman went to Barnard college and worked a lot with film photography. She actually began doing things with film at the age of 13 to impress a girl, which I thought was kind of cool.
Her big and slightly controversial work is where she went through the U.S. archive and took pictures taken for the government and modified them so they really became her own. The town she chose to focus on was called Pietown. What she did was change the town into a place where all of the adults are women. Just by doing this she created her own narrative and story to go with an otherwise rigid and fixed point in time.
Some of the advice she gave all those present was that as an artist you must keep creating and even when so much else is happening in your life you must remember to keep going and do what you love. I thought that was pretty interesting since it is so hard to make it as an artist it is really challenging to keep up doing something you love with the other demands of simply staying alive.
What I really took from this talk was her idea of cheating death. She said that most people see a picture as an unmovable event and frozen forever. She wanted to really push the flexibility of a photograph and what could come from manipulation. Actually, Grossman has inspired me to dive into the world of photo manipulation and use some of the magazines that I found at my grandmother’s house to make my own art.