Teaching something you love to do is a virtue. Especially when your students are very engaged in what they're doing: students that don't have to be at your class, that are there because they want to be there. What you're teaching them is going straight to their harts. It's part of them, even before they come into your class for the first time. Jennifer Greenburg has that type of students. She's Assitent Professor of photography at the Indiana University Northwest and feels blessed to have students of all colors that are truly interested in being there.
Photographers need to learn techniques. A good photographer will learn more than just that. Good photographers also learn about the world, be it history, sociology, natural studies. Anything that sparks their curiosity and makes them want to investigate. This new subject helps to improve their photo's, it gives the photographer the eye to create a story or documentary. Greenburg herself has a degree in women's studies.
The Rockabillies isn't about women. It's about a subculture of Americans that have chosen to live their life surrounded by the style and design of 40's and 50's. Greenburg has always collected furniture and design from that period. She started meeting people with similar interests at garages sales and events. At first she thought they were arty types, but she later learned they weren't necessarily artists but that they had created their own subculture. It became her new subject: 'The Rockabillies'.
The colors of the Rockabilies are joyous, and that's one of the reasons people like the photo's. And this is where the story about the Rockabillies starts. Rockabilies take care of their living space, they have learned to select separate pieces of design to create an interior that brings them into the bright feeling of the 50's, when the US was growing tremendously. The Rockabillies take you back in time.
Greenburg was initially surprised by their sense of design and visual aptitude, but she quickly learned where it came from. With the way the Rockabillies treat their homes, personal surroundings and by how they choose the objects in their homes, they show a respect for design, the designer and the design process. By taking the time to select the objects Rockabillies develop a visual sophistication to make a color like bright chartreuse work in an interior. They study old photo's, movies from the 50's and advertisements and make very personal selections. Their home are the result of lengthy investigation into a very specific period of design and history. And they show attention to detail. The colors and patterns of the walls and couch are carefully chosen to the taste of the Rockabilly and to create an harmonious ensemble.
The Rockabilies are normal people. They're not trying to live in the past. They endure the same realities of life as it is now and they do not wish to go back to 50's realities like racism, censorship, the cold war or the traditional roles of women. The Rockabillies have taken the best parts of the 50's in a whistful interpretation. For them it's about the romanticism, the fantasy and love of 50's design. They're curating their own existence by adding the objects and the colors of a time gone by and in this way preserve the best of the 50's. They can wake up in the morning in a surrounding that makes them feel good and come home again to a space that suits their harts. The 50's colors makes The Rockabillies feel happy.
Visit Jennifer Greenburgs website to see the entire series. Or visit the following exhibits to see her work live:
- Toronto, Canada: Art Gallery of Ontario through May 18th
- Worland, New York USA: Washakie Museum and Cultural Gallery through April 5th
- Melbourne, Florida, USA: Foosaner Art Museum, Opening May 16th