We had the good fortune of connecting with E Spencer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi E, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Coming from upstate NY, born from an Alabama-raised, God-fearing Black grandmother, and farm boy with little high school education, I felt as though it’s been my purpose to pursue my creative goals and careers. A family of settlers and trying to make a way for their children, and then children’s children, I came from developed a unique perspective in me on life. The arts have been rooted into my family for generations, but never explored beyond the small drawings my grandfather made for me and the photos he captured of our family. Given the opportunity, I decided to pursue the arts, specifically photography, head-on at Spelman College, where I would continue that family legacy and creativity. Also, nothing else ever sat right with me; not benign a lawyer, a psychologist, or an architect. Photography gives me access to different places, people, and ideas that I would not find in other careers.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a student at Spelman currently, I have not been fully able to invest myself in the professional world of the arts as other older creatives have. But, I remain confident in my capabilities and creative eye that truly sets me apart from others. I began with roots in drawing and sketching, then moving forward to digital media, then sliding to digital photography, and now 35mm film photography. This has been a process since my days as a toddler, always creating, putting my art out there, never-ending. It has not been easy, but it has been comforting. Going through different traumatic events in my short 20 years of life, I have seen and felt a lot. But through my art, I am able to capture Black joy amidst pain, beauty where there is mundane, and raise questions of awareness, autonomy, and intersectionality as it pertains to the Black female body. My art now is in a transitory state. I have used a low-quality- Kodak film scanner for many of the film images. But moving forward now, I have begun scanning at higher qualities, developing more intimate photo series, and collaborating with the Atlanta University Center schools for networking and opportunities. My creative name is svnflwrchild, meaning a being of love, light and creativity. I’ve felt as though I also have to get through something, and through my art I do. Getting through mental illness, physical assault, family, and overall growing pains are reflected in my art and how I capture those around me. My work is a bit of documentary and conceptual art rolled into one colorful and vibrant mass. And just as I have changed, my work continues to as well. It’s a work of the moment, of the present, and of the soul.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Piedmont Park, the Atlanta University Consortium, the High Museum, MOCA GA, the Betline, and other creative spots to dive into. A personal favorite is the Little Five Points shopping area. This neighborhood of creativity and divinity always inspires me. As for food spots, Amalfi’s, JJ’s Fish & Chicken, JR Crickets, and all of the other fulfilling spots I can access within the time frame. Being based in the West End, a lot of restaurant spots there are commendable and worthy of service more than once as well. In my opinion, what’s exciting in Atlanta changes every day. As a go with the flow person, I love to travel and be adventurous so while there would be no planned itinerary, visiting places like the Botanical Gardens, the drive-in movie theater, and large structures downtown like what I call, the “Pencil Building”, influence my creativity and expressiveness here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The credit will always be given to my grandfather, Frank. Growing up as a farm boy, losing his mother young, but always keeping that art with him through his struggles was inspiring from the beginning. Without knowing the generational full circle moments I would have later in life, I never kept his drawings, writings, any of it. But recently after my grandfather had been diagnosed with Dementia and other physical issues, I discovered he captured his family, my blood, on film and have tons of books filled with his work. Despite his current state of being, his influence on my life has always been heavy. He was the kindest male figure and the most fun. His desire to create drawings on cardboard or other scarps he found, is reminiscent of my likings of found objects, etc. Without Frank, there would be no E, no svnflwrchild, no beautiful creations of mine that have been shared with others.
For the personal image of myself, @walker_picss on instagram