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Meet the Artist: Jeff Golenski

Groundwork member Jeff Golenski describes himself as a design tactician. By day, he creates a seamless user experience for JetPack, a popular Automattic plugin. Since the Automattic team is 100% remote, Jeff also enjoys plenty of travel opportunities to photograph nature in all of its glory.

Jeff is teaming up with another Groundwork member and photographer, Trey Piepmeier, for an upcoming show in our gallery. It is our first all-member show, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Here’s what Jeff has to say about his work…

What materials do you work with?

For my photography work, I’m strictly digital. I shoot with a Fuji mirrorless system which allows for easy travel. I generally try to do as little post production work as possible on my photos, so most of what you see is achieved in the camera.

Gooseberry Island in Westport, MA

Tell us about your current body of work. What motivated it?

I’m very inspired by nature and the cosmos. I tend to try and create particular scenes with weather, light, and time as variables, rather than just take snapshots. There’s so much more to nature than how our eyes perceive it. Take for instance star trails — we can gaze up at the night sky and see stars, but if I take a photo that’s an hour long, it throws the movement of the earth into the mix and creates a photo that we’d never be able to see just by looking up.

If you are interested in reading more, I wrote about this on my blog.

Star trails Jeff captured at Kalalau Lookout on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

How do you integrate art into your life and other responsibilities? Do you work full-time as an artist or do you wear other hats?

Photography has been a serious hobby of mine since I was young. I’m actually a UX designer by profession. In terms of process, the two disciplines have a lot of overlap. Framing, composition, color, timing, psychology etc.— all always variables in my work — whether it’s design or photography.

Also, I’m love to travel and love the wilderness, so why not capture those moments to share with the world?

How has your art practice evolved over the years?

When I was younger I took a lot of snapshots. Basically photos of how things exist in the world. If I saw a building I’d take a photo of the building as-is. If I saw a swan sitting in a pond, I’d take the photo of the swan from eye level.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to experiment with things such as light, framing, composition, long exposures, and weather, to create unique scenes that people don’t often see.

As an example: A few years ago I hiked Joffre Lakes in B.C. Canada. On any given afternoon with the sun overhead, one can hike the trail and see beautiful lakes, and snap a photo of a beautiful scene. I take that a bit further and plan my shoots ahead of time based on weather. By planning my shots ahead of time, I was able to use the weather report to determine a day that would have more cloud cover for a more dramatic shot. Also, I planned to go on a day where there would be a temperature drop in order for fog to appear in the early morning. The result was a much more dramatic photo than just a quick snapshot with harsh lighting. With planning like this, you can create much better scenes.

What or who inspires you?

I generally absorb inspiration from a multitude of sources. Clearly, nature is the majority stakeholder here, but when I see people pushing the limits and status quo in photography, design, and more. I’m generally inspired to get out and experiment. Most recently, I’ve gotten back into Aquascaping —the art of underwater gardening in aquariums. The work that can be done to make a simple aquarium into a full living ecosystem and living art is incredible. It’s really made me think long and hard about better composition.

I also take a lot from local artists in the New Bedford area — not only photographers, but we have talented folks creating amazing things will all types of media.

How is community important to you as a practicing artist?

Community helps me be a better artist. It’s imperative to be able to ping pong ideas off other creatives & makers. There’s also a social energy that comes about when artists get together in a room together. Ideas begin to flourish and it’s a remarkable thing.

Join us on Saturday, November 16th, from 6-9 pm for the opening reception of a show showcasing work by Jeff Golenski and Trey Piepmeier. The opening reception will also feature a musical guest, Midori Evans, on piano. This event is free and all are welcome. More information here.

Caitlin Joseph