Mentorship Student Portfolios

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Deb Ehrens
Dartmouth, MA
Workshops: Mentorship 2014-2015

Garden and the Brook
Moving water has a language of currents, ripples and standing waves, while my garden speaks in patterns, shape, texture and color. In the Garden and the Brook series I bring these worlds together for a conversation, like a curator bringing together elements from different collections. To create what sounds like a contradiction – a still life in moving water – I select plants from my home garden and secure them in gently flowing woodland streams. But, unlike a still life created in a carefully controlled setting, my botanic elements dance at the mercy of wind and currents. My plants shift in and out of focus as the water curls around sharp edges, creating new tableaux. There is drama at the margins where water and plant meet, magic in the repeating patterns and momentary flashes of brilliant color.

While all the elements of my “still life” are in motion, I must move with thoughtful deliberation to capture the unfolding scene. The frenetic deadline speed of my past gives way to a “meditative stillness” that allows me to see deeply into the world around me.

Photography on display:
– Gallery 65, New Bedford, MA
Gallery 555, Boston, MA

My experience with the Mentorship:
After taking a number of classes and workshops I was really looking for something that would help me move forward as an artist and focus my creative efforts. With Alison and Sue’s help and guidance I did exactly that. During the Mentorship program I not only expanded and refined a body of work, but also revised and honed all the supporting pieces – website, artist statement, cards. With these in hand, I can now confidently approach galleries and consultants with my work.

Since the Mentorship, I am having my most successful year ever in terms of exposure and sales. The development of my primary project during the mentorship, the Garden and the Brook, has been ongoing. Watching the response to my work from buyers, gallery owners and designers has made my shooting for Garden and Brook even more intentional and my understanding of my tools and materials continues to grow and evolve. In addition to printing on paper, I've printed on silk, and metal. I've also begun teaching photography one-on-one, which has been very rewarding. Lastly, the on-going connection and communication with some my former "mentees" continues to be an important source of support and inspiration.

Sue and Alison’s combined knowledge and talents as artists, designer and gallerist combined with their deep understanding of the creative process give the program a unique breadth. 

What would you say to people considering taking the Mentorship?
When I came to the Mentorship I was not a beginner as far as having a body of work, but I was a total novice when it came to portfolio reviews and putting my work in front of gallery owners and art consultants. I had some ideas and fantasies of where I would like to have my work, but no plan of how to actually get there. Nor was I sure my work was ready for that level. The mentorship got me started with the requisite steps to show my work at a higher level and each step built my confidence to go on to the next one.

I signed on for the Mentorship program because I saw it as a “complete package” – a “two-fer” – thrilled to get both artistic and business advice together. But it really is a “three-fer.” The creation of a community of peers is an equally important part of the program.

Workshops at a Glance

Focus on You

Alison Shaw, Sue Dawson
Booking now
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Sharpen your Focus:
Taking your work to the next level

Alison Shaw, Sue Dawson
October 5, 2020 –
April 30, 2021
* cancelled *
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Staying in Focus

Alison & Sue
July 27, 2020 -
June 11, 2021
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Cape Cod 3-day Weekend

Alison Shaw
September 18-20, 2020
* cancelled *
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Martha's Vineyard 3-day Weekend

Alison Shaw
September 25-27, 2020
* cancelled *
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