Interview with Micah McCoy

Micah McCoy is a photographer and poet based in Central Illinois and Chicago. Micah’s work explores issues of religiosity, anxiety, and social detachment.

In 2020, Micah accepted the Henry Nias Business in the Arts Fellowship with the Museum of Contemporary Photography. He currently serves in this role while working to complete an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. His work has been featured in many online publications and featured in exhibitions at Belong Gallery Chicago, IL, The Independent Media Center Urbana, IL, JKC Gallery Trenton, NJ and others.

© Micah McCoy

How did you become interested in photography? How did you start?

I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but I lacked talent in drawing, painting, and sculpting. Photography wasn’t something that was talked about as art or taught in my school growing up, so I never really considered it as a medium till I inherited a lot of vintage cameras from my great uncle. I bought film for them and fell in love them as tools. From there, working with film, an developing black and white photos firmly ingrained me in the medium.

Could you tell more about your creating process? Do you shoot on analog or digital format? Color or bnw? Why?

Although I started on film cameras, and still shoot much of my work on an old Hasselblad, I do mix in digital as well. I like to use all the tools available to me and find that I make different kind of pictures with each camera. I like to think it adds variety to my projects and keeps things from becoming stagnant in my practice. Much of my work is a collaboration with my family in portraits and the land in landscapes. I offer light direction and set up some photographs but consider my work of the constructed documentary variety.

I shoot both black and white and color, but veer towards black and white for the work I hold most dear. My work hinges on black and white photography to separate itself from reality. This allows me to create a world that is untethered to the constraints of time.

© Micah McCoy

Do you want to share something about the submitted body of work?

In the series “Let That Day Be Darkness”, I wrestle with the age-old conundrum facing humanity when confronted with devastation in the presence of a quiet God. Loosely based on the Judeo-Christian story of Job, the series witnesses a family faced with an existential crisis in a chillingly desperate landscape. Centering around a family home, the photographs map and chart the psychological space of my family’s private inner world. As I’ve photographed our farmhouse the surrounding lands and took portraits of myself and my family, I began to see our home as a canvas on which the various sectors of our consciousness were laid bare.

© Micah McCoy

How do you get inspiration? Do you have any artists or photographers that inspired you?

I’m inspired a lot by classic cinema. My favorite director is Ingmar Bergman and I’ve continually been inspired by the cinematography in his films. I’m also take lots of inspiration from photographers like Ralph E. Meatyard and Emmet Gowin. I’ve also been moved by the recent work of photographers like Raymond Meeks, Tim Carpenter, and Odette England.

What are you working right now? Where are you going with your work?

I’m currently finishing up graduate school at Columbia College Chicago, so over the next 6 months I’ll be preparing for my thesis show. During this time I hope to make progress towards getting this work published in book form. I’ve also began to make video work that connects my photos to clips from home movies I found filmed by my grandpa.

Find out more about the work of Micah McCoy, on his website and on Instagram (@micahmccoy)

© Micah McCoy

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