Meet Sydney Walsh, a student at the Corcoran pursuing a B.F.A in Photography and one of five new recipients for the 2020-2021 AIGA DC Design Continuum Fund Scholarship.
What was your journey to becoming a visual artist?
I actually began as a performing artist as a dancer and a musician, and then later found visual art through my high school years. I always enjoyed photography and decided to apply to a digital media program at a local arts high school. I ended up transferring there and switched out band for photography. Looking back, it was one of the most important decisions I made because without it, I never would have learned the history of photography or joined my school’s newspaper photo staff.
How would you describe the current style of your work and what are the influences that have helped you define it over time?
The current style of my work is very intimate and involves a lot of references to my personal experiences, especially as a female Asian adoptee, as well as themes of Florida, where I spent most of my childhood. Listening to music, looking at other artists’ work, and learning the history behind the medium have all shifted my perspective and changed the way I approach everything I photograph, as well as the way I view other people’s images.
What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on and why?
Some of my favorite projects that I’ve worked on are my project about transracial and intercultural adoption, From There, To Here, and a project about Florida, both of which are ongoing. From There, To Here is one of my favorite projects because it’s so personal and I continue to learn more about myself and the adoption community. My project about Florida is one of my favorites too because I get to photograph a place where I first began photography, and it’s also a very personal place to me since I mainly grew up here.
How do you wish to use photography and your creative skills to make an impact or create change in the world?
I want to use photography to change the way people perceive the world and themselves in the world. Photography and the media have a powerful role in determining how society views certain people and places. Historically, the medium has had the power to be weaponized and used to justify unequal social and political hierarchies. However, photography can also change the narrative, but only if the people who make photographs really spend time to learn and understand the people and places in the stories they are telling.
What does being a DCF scholarship recipient mean to you?
Being a DCF scholarship recipient means that I have support in the industry, outside of my peers and mentors, who believe my work is meaningful. It encourages me to continue pursuing photography, and also makes me grateful that I even have an opportunity to study what I’m passionate about.