In Awe Of - Arielle Bobb-Willis

If rich colour, daring angles and playful form could manifest from my mind into something foreignly human, Arielle Bobb-Willis' work would be just it. There's something truly special about the way she moves people - in the physical sense, and in the emotional sense we as an audience come to know after understanding her humble purpose and image-making process further illustrated below. While I have not met her myself, Arielle seems to me a very pure soul with a knack for gently pushing herself and those around her to always grow. To the viewer her photographs might seem abstract, but dig just a little below the surface and it's clear her vision is ever-lucid. 

With photo-assist credits on a Harpers Bazaar shoot up her sleeve, and several features on online sites like Rookie, Arielle is forging a path for herself with her bold creations. I'd like to think that if Keith Haring was still alive today, he'd call upon Arielle to transform his 2D images into photographic impressions, and invite her over for dinner once she absolutely nails the task. Artist Ben Zank followers her, I'm sure Mr Haring would have too had Instagram been around in the 80s. You, however - you have no excuse, and frankly you don't need one! Take a look below.. 

Name: Arielle Bobb-Willis
Age: 22 years old
Based in: New York City / New Orleans

FUN FACT/S: When I buy my first home or apartment I want to draw on the walls, I’ve kept a journal every year of my life since the 5th grade, my favorite song is Mmmhmm by Flying lotus, I have white paint all over my arms and hands while I type this, My mom is from New Orleans and my dad is from Brooklyn, and I like you a lot a lot a lot.  

WHAT GOES ON IN THE MIND OF ARIELLE BOBB-WILLIS? WHAT ARE YOU ALL ABOUT?  I am finally starting to have more opportunities to learn more and more about myself. I’m an extremely visual person but more so on how I see the world not how people perceive me. I’m always thinking about my photography of course and how I can use it to create my own reality. I think about how in order for me to feel comfortable in that reality I create I have to do things in this reality that are uncomfortable. I think a lot about how under-stimulating the world around me looks sometimes… I think throughout the day I’m always looking at the way people position themselves and how people move their limbs.

New York City can be very grey so I find my eyes trying to find spots of color throughout the day. The other day there was an older woman in a long blue fur coat that covered her whole body that was sluggishly carrying about eight bright red plastic bags…it was great. I am all about keeping your mind healthy, doing the things that most scare you, being empathetic, open, honest, and kind, listening to your gut, and I just like to see how far I can push myself.   

 

HOW DID YOU COME TO REALISE PHOTOGRAPHY / IMAGE-MAKING WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO PURSUE? 

Photography came about very unexpectedly but just on time. I moved from New York City where I was raised to a small town in South Carolina and it brought about a very frustrating depression. That’s when I was randomly placed in a digital imaging class and learned about all the wonderful parts of photography. It was a place for me to go to where I had control and I could manipulate the world around me, which wasn’t looking too bright and beautiful at the time. This is something I will pursue forever because it is something that makes me feel the most. Although that was such a horrible time in that small town it truly brought about my sense of imagery and who I am as a person.

WHILE I SIDE WITH YOU TOO, I THINK OTHERS MIGHT BE INTERESTED TO KNOW: IN A DIGITAL WORLD, WHY STICK WITH FILM? 

Every time I go to get my film developed the guy that develops it always asks me the same question! I just love the process. You just can’t get the same colors with digital as you do film. It’s always a pleasant surprise with light leaks and just the intensity of the light at times. I love the anxiety of waiting for film and while shooting it makes each shot more valuable. I fell in love with photography through film not digital so that’s what I hope to stick with and move forward to medium format. 

WHO ARE SOME OTHER PEOPLE - FRIENDS OR STRANGERS - WHO PRODUCE WORK THAT YOU REALLY ADMIRE? 

There are many people around me right now specifically who inspire me. I think my best friends all inspire me because they are very sensitive which I admire. Not only through their work, whether its music, photography, or illustration, but through who they are as people and how they maneuver through day to day life. My little siblings Ava, Dakota, and Cameron inspire me so much. Children are the greatest artists to me and I ask them to draw for me to gain inspiration. I am also inspired by Jacob Lawrence, Benny Andrews, Milton Avery, and Bob Thompson.

YOUR SUBJECTS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS PHYSICAL, DONNED IN COLOUR, CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL HUMAN FORMS. THE IMAGES YOU CREATE TOGETHER ARE OBJECTIVE BUT ALSO ABSTRACT. THEY’RE VIVID, THEY’RE THOUGHT-PROVOKING. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO CONVEY BY SHARING THEM?

Well first and foremost I’m trying to convey myself and where I am in my life at the moment. I think that I love working with real people and taking them out of their everyday lives and allowing them to let go of their ego and just do something that’s out of their routine. I want people to feel uncomfortable because that’s where growth comes from…Dr. Abraham Twerski…how lobsters grow…becoming better a person through adversity…all of that.

IF YOU COULD STEP INTO ONE PERSON’S LIFE, DEAD OR ALIVE, AND SHOOT THEIRPORTRAIT AND THE BITS AND PIECES THAT MAKE UP THEIR LIFE, WHO WOULD IT BE? 

That’s a very hard question! But if I had to choose right now it would definitely be James Baldwin. I think he is the embodiment of empathy while remaining extremely aware of how people react to your own personal history. I admire his sense of self the most. 

ANY SPECIFIC CAREER HIGHLIGHTS TO DATE? ANY PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL GOALS? 

I think learning that I love who I am and what I do is probably the best goal I could have accomplished this year...I’m most proud of the people who become a part of my work who trust my vision. The people who are willing to allow me to direct them. It’s a great accomplishment. I’m happy that people want to create with me and I’m just very open to anyone who would want to come with me and create something great. 

You can find Arielle on instagram here: @relbw

Written by Elli Webb

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