Rebecca Cairns

Wind, limbs and fog - that is how photographer Rebecca Cairns art would best be described. Her art is her language, she says, and the photographs are an eerie, captivating conversation with a talented artist. When asked about her influences, Rebecca says she draws on her own life. However, no particular memory sticks out. Her work is inspired by the crippling beauty of the world.  She feels as though her overactive mind absorbs simple and intricate imagery that is apparent in her work. She believes in an artist’s powers of observation and representation. Rebecca’s influences can often be recognized in her body of photographs, which are often ongoing and unconscious acts. 



Rebecca likes staying true to her roots, and it could not be more clear than when she is asked to discuss her favorite place to shoot.  When asked, she says it is a beautiful, rustic white spruce conservation area near her home where she spends a lot of time. A lot of her photographs were taken there, as she loves the way the light peeks out through the trees. Like a true artist, her thoughts are muddled with everything and anything, and her blurry, out-of-focus and ephemeral photographs are a testament to that. It also extends to her creative process which is rather spontaneous. Though she would like to have a clear, defined structure in her creative process, it is never the case. Her creative process is a melting pot of scattered thoughts, multitasking and a kind of trance of over productivity. Speaking specifically about her shoots, Rebecca says she usually has a general idea of what she has to produce, but, as she admits, things change drastically over a short period of time. She leaves a lot up to environmental facts, what feels comfortable for herself and what feels right at the moment.


A testament to her creativity is an admission of hiding images and messages in her work. While she used to do that more frequently in the past, she admits to resorting to this  less frequently in her work. Rebecca says she sometimes uses images to speak to a specific someone, or to replay to someone the memory of their shared experience. She is most inspired when she is searching for the place that makes her feel the most content, and thus, her images also show a lone figure who is always looking forward, searching. The pastoral theme in her works is due to Rebecca feeling defeated if she is around concrete too much. Rather, she says, she is drawn to water. Her work is characterized by honesty, and all she wants to convey through it is the truth. She invites people to see themselves and their own figures when they see her work, and make their own worlds. She doesn’t like to impress her own view on people, and loves to give her audience space to make their own art within her own.


An artist’s creative inspirations and influences are of great interest to everyone. Rebecca doesn’t single out any one photographer or artist. Rather, she says there are nearly too many writers, photographers, musicians and artists she draws creative energy from. Among her contemporaries, she follows the works of Diane Arbus, Duane Michals, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman, Meatyard, Joel Peter-Witkin, Sally Mann and Bresson. As stated before, she also draws creative influence from herself and her own life, which is why the figure in her pictures is usually herself. Her rustic outlook also carries forward to her views on technology. While she is grateful for being able to keep in touch with her friends who are a great distance away, she also feels that technology feels like a kind of imperious weight that is constantly acting like some kind of blockage. She thinks that the need to stay connected to everyone constantly masks our true perception of reality and communication, and she finds herself escaping it quite often. Her work is her world.


Being as immersed in her work as Rebecca allows herself to be, it can be a little overwhelming, and she often takes extended breaks from photography. We're thankful she has yet to stop returning to her craft from those respites. These breaks, says Rebecca, are crucial for both reflection and growth. These rests are probably what have spawned the beautiful body of work that we look forward to watching continue to grow.