Photograph by Yunuen Perez Vertti
Grant Withers is a husband, dad and photographic visionary living in Burnaby. Shooting since he was a teenager armed with his father’s Pentax SLR, he fell in love with black and white darkroom work and Kodachrome 64, and now embraces the creative potential of the digital darkroom. Known for pushing the boundaries of photography, Grant creates work with the aim of engaging viewers as participants and inviting them to question their assumptions about the visual world.
1. What medium do you work in?
My creative practice is based on photography but sometimes my photographs leave the frame and take on sculptural forms or even become central characters in installation works. For me, photography is more than a physical medium involving two-dimensional photographs.
2. What are you working on right now?
I’m exploring the art and science of stereoscopic imagery. I’m not using traditional gear that would capture then display a scene to mimic normal stereo vision. Instead, I am altering 2-D digital images to create the perspectives needed for a virtual 3-D experience. How often do we think about how we see and take in the world around us? It’s a fascinating exercise and checks off a lot of boxes for my avid visual curiosity.
3. How does the city or community you live in inspire your art or artistic process?
There is such a rich creative community here on the west coast. I am inspired by our bold photographers, painters and genre-bending innovators working beyond accepted conventions in their craft. I feel fortunate to know some of them.
4. What piece of artwork changed your life?
The Sydney Opera House. When I visited Sydney I promised myself that I wouldn’t shoot it. It’s been ‘over-photographed’ and I didn’t want to just add MY images to the bucket. BUT, when I saw it I was smitten. I couldn’t resist shooting it. I tried to make my photos unique of course, but I’m sure they weren’t. Ever since, my approach to image-making has shifted. When I find myself photographing the familiar in a familiar way I ask myself ‘Why?’. ‘What is my artistic intent?’ That’s become a pretty good filter and has made me slow down and hone my vision.
5. Where do you go in your community for inspiration?
I meet monthly with a group of fellow photographers who share my passion for photography and for questioning and pushing its boundaries. ‘Photo Friday’ is a trusted testing ground for some of my crazier ideas.
6. What is one word or phrase you use all the time?
Never stop playing!
7. Who would you most like to sit next to on a flight across the country (dead or alive)?
Leonardo da Vinci
8. What was the first album/record you bought with your own money?
Nazareth – Greatest Hits. Some sunsets still remind me of the album cover.
9. What book should everybody read?
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are great but the books!
10. What can you not get enough of?
My wife’s Christmas baking. Thankfully, it’s around for only a short time!
11. What can take a hike?
12. What is your favourite invention of the last 100 years?
The personal computer
13. What is the greatest lesson you ever learned?
‘Speak your heart.’ When I was a teen my best friend’s father, whose first language was not English, eloquently offered this advice. It wasn’t just about expression but about talking and bonding with others. The disconnectedness we often experience today is not a new phenomenon; he saw it even back in the late 80s and early 90s. His words were a call to action. Speak your heart!
14. If you could have any talent (other than yours) what would it be?
I would love to play the guitar effortlessly, fluidly. I’ve dabbled over the years and love watching and listening to gifted players for whom it seems to come naturally.
15. Where would we find you on a day off?
Fly fishing for trout on the Skagit River, just south of Hope.
Learn more about Grant’s work at www.grantwithers.com.
Artist Inspiration highlights local artists working in different mediums and communities in a series of 15 questions so you can get to know them a little better.