Wednesday, October 8, 2014


CONNECTION TO NOHO: Her former "office" was at Republic of Pie and she has facilitated the creation of murals in and around NOHO 

MEDIUM: Photography 


That “place on the other side of the hill,” otherwise known as the San Fernando Valley, has always held a stigma of being uncool or, at worse, the land where porn was born. Thanks to Erin Stone and the rest of her comrades at 11:11, 818 might very well become the new 213 when it comes to the Los Angeles art scene.

So, who is Erin Stone? Her person is often times synonymous with 11:11, a grassroots nonprofit organization she co-founded to focus on San Fernando Valley’s creative community. Even I had trouble pulling her out of that mix so I could explain what makes her tick. Erin is a photographer and a great one at that. Her portfolio runs the gamut; commercial work, family portraits, events, headshots, and album covers, but personally, I think her conceptual art is her core. That’s because Erin is a true artist and visionary––someone who dreams. But compared to ordinary people, her dreams come to life, whether it’s a 2-D photograph or a 3-D organization that's gonna change the Valley’s reputation forever.

At the time of our interview, we talked at length about her thought-provoking piece called “Teeth: A Reoccurring Dream” which hung at 11:11’s semi-permanent pop-up gallery on the corner of Yolanda and Ventura. I hadn’t known, until Erin filled me in, that dreams of losing one’s teeth are quite common, and Erin had been having that same dream for a long time. Anybody can Google “dreams of losing teeth,” which I did, but somebody like Erin decided to make a photographic story of her experience instead. I guess you can say she sorta faced her demons by doing so and made an effort to understand why she kept having that dream. My Google search told me why or at least it gave a general answer. Losing teeth in a dream is a common symbol of anxiety. Teeth represent power and losing them, according to what I found, is attune to having a sense of powerlessness. I can’t say what goes on in Erin Stone’s head, but I can say there aren’t many of us who can do what she is doing for the Valley and not have some kind of anxiety about it. But, if you take a good look at the series of photographs that make up “Teeth,” I betcha you’ll find the answer.
Pictured first a woman holds several oversized teeth in her muddy hands. By the smudges on her cheeks and the disheveled clothes, she appears to have been run through the mill. The look on her face is one of terror, maybe even panic.  As Erin explained to me, the model is emoting embarrassment for the loss––as if she’s involuntarily lost control of a situation. 
In the next photo, the teeth are in the process of being buried by her. At first glance, you think she’s ridding herself of the evidence when in actuality she’s planted them. This is symbolically illustrated in the last photograph. A tooth, once hosted by a living soul, has been reborn––rooted in the mouth of Mother Earth where a new life has been generated.

There is no getting around the fact that Erin’s conceptual photography is indeed exploratory. Her artist statement reads that her goal is “to share her understanding of experiences and questions around intimacy, sexuality, insecurity, loss, and personal growth.” It’s a known fact that anxiety tends to come up during times of transition and often points to concerns experienced by the dreamer in waking life. Perhaps with Erin Stone, she has had some anxious moments in her life. I’m sure her thoughts and ideas have been entertained and discarded, they’ve come alive and died––birthed and rebirthed. Whatever the process is, I’m sure glad Erin Stone is dreaming because we are about to have one rockin’ art scene and it’s going to begin with the area code 818!

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