Tara Wray is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker based in Vermont. She curates interviews with photographers at Vice and at BUST Magazine—where her focus is on giving voice to women in photography—and is photo editor of the literary journal Hobart. She created and curates Some Days Just Are, a collaborative series where two photographers capture a twelve hour day in parallel time. Wray's work is held in collections at major institutions including Yale University, University of Notre Dame, and Dartmouth College.
Born and raised in Kansas, Wray graduated from NYU with a degree in documentary film. She has directed two feature length documentaries: “Manhattan, Kansas” (Audience Award, SXSW 2006; Film Society of Lincoln Center) and “Cartoon College” (Vancouver International Film Festival 2012).
Her photobook, “Too Tired for Sunshine,” was recently published by Yoffy Press.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Too Tired for Sunshine
When and where did Too Tired for Sunshine begin?
I began work on this project around 2011. The shots were really just one off singles to begin - I carry my camera everywhere and I’m always shooting things that I feel strongly connected to at any given moment - but it wasn’t until 2016 that I thought it could be a cohesive series. I printed everything out that resonated and tried to see what those images had in common. After some editing I was left with a series of shots that were moody, or melancholic, unsettling in some way, also darkly funny. In many instances I realized that when I made those images my mood was the same.
Photography for me is a tool for better understanding myself and my place in the world, and a way to document the connected themes of mental illness, family ties, and the minutiae of everyday life.
Congrats on recently publishing Too Tired for Sunshine as a book! How was your experience making the book, and where may interested parties purchase it?
Thank you! I started thinking about the work as a book in 2016 and reached out to Jennifer Yoffy at Yoffy Press in 2017. She was into the project and we started a Kickstarter almost immediately after deciding to work together. Jennifer was great, very patient, very knowledgeable, very flexible, even when I presented enormous changes at the last minute. Door to door from fundraising and layout it was about 8-9 month from agreement to book. A fast marathon.
It’s now available here:
Where do you see this project going?
It took me seven years, but I can finally say that the creation of the project is complete. Too Tired for Sunshine was recently published in hardback by Yoffy Press. I have my first solo exhibition coming up in October in Woodstock, VT, where I will be giving an artists talk on depression and creativity in photography. I want the book to help people see the bizarre and beautiful in their own lives. I hope people will connect with it on an emotional level.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
Books help keep me engaged in a creative life and are a great distraction from and antidote to the barrage of bad news in the world. Mainly I like art and photography books. I’ve been into Aaron Siskind lately, as well as the art of Joan Brown and Jean Dubuffet, and May Sarton’s Journal of Solitude; I liked Robert Adams Art Can Help, it feels especially precinct these days. Despite the fact there are no women in the series, I like The Art for Children books by Ernest Raboff (they’re easily digestible art theory books that I read to my kids). And Susan Lipper’s new book, Domesticated Land was beautiful and brutal.
Staying engaged with other photographers also helps. I curate a series called Some Days Just Are where I pair two photographers and ask them to capture a twelve hour day in parallel time (neither photographer knows who their partner is or where they’re shooting). When I combine the work together the pairings often feel surreally connected, which is the purpose of the series, to show that we’re weirdly bound to each other no matter who or where we are. Because representation matters, it’s especially important for me to highlight work made by women, and artists from underrepresented communities.
What’s next for you?
I curate a semi regular interview series with photographers for Vice called Doin’ Work. I ask everyone the same questions and wind up with vastly different answers - a photocentric version of the Proust Questionnaire. It gives me an excuse to start a dialogue with people whose work I admire. And I do an interview series for BUST Magazine where I aim to highlight amazing underrepresented women photographers.
My next personal project is something I’m very excited about. I don’t want to say too much at this point other than it involves photography, poetry, fast food, and the state of Kansas.
What other artists should we be keeping an eye on?
@rubyetc_, the collaborative work of Anya Galatonova and Anton Polyakov, Dodge & Burn, Johanne Rahaman, Mary Frey, Meryl Meisler, Siân Davey, Mike Thompson, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Jess T. Dugan, Zora J Murff, Natives Photograph, Jennifer Garza-Cuan, Woman in Photography (wipnyc), and Tammy Mercure.