“She clicks the shutter and I scream and yell,” is how Jeff Louviere good-naturedly describes the collaboration with his partner in life and work, Vanessa S. Brown. She in turn puts it this way: “We yell and scream at each other throughout the photo shoot and afterwards we kiss and hug and say ‘Great job, honey.’ “
Brown, a photographer, and Louviere, a painter/printmaker/graphic designer, have been married for four years, and collaborating seriously for two. The major fruit of those efforts are two series of haunting black and white photographs, some populated with references to mythology. Collectively, the groups of photos are entitled “Slumberland,” and the more recent “Creature,” which is still in progress.
Taking their ideas from books, silent movies, dreams, and simply their imaginations, each photograph hints at a narrative that extends beyond the limits of the frame. The viewer is left to fill in the blanks. “Creepy” and “beautiful” are the two words most often used to describe their work, says Brown, who then jokes, “That’s what we’re going to change our names to.”
“We’re trying to storm the world,” Brown says, “but it’s slow going.” Not that slow—they’ve had work in
22 group shows, from Seattle to New York and many major cities in between, since April.
While they point out that collaborations are the norm in other artistic endeavors—music and film, to name a couple examples, to say nothing of the performing arts—the pair agrees that working with a partner is still cutting edge when it comes to visual art. “Most people think of the tortured artist,” says Louviere, to which Brown, smiling, replies, “We just torture each other.” •
This article appears in the December 2004 issue of New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles