Art Maker: Emikan Sudan, photographer

  • Emikan Sudan with some of his photographs at his home in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Photographer Emikan Sudan, seen here in his home in Northampton, says she uses his camera “to capture life's fleeting moments in time and space.” STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Folk and blues legend Taj Mahal in 2016. Image courtesy Emikan Sudan

  • “Red Shoe on a Blue Fountain, Paris Courtyard”

  • Left to right, “Portrait of Lorna,” “Red Shoe on a Blue Fountain, Paris Courtyard,” and folk and blues legend Taj Mahal in 2016.

  • “Chimneys of Paris” Image courtesy Emikan Sudan

Published: 12/21/2018 8:22:04 AM

Photographer Emikan Sudan says he uses his camera “to capture life's fleeting moments in time and space.” His images can cover “the glow of a music lover entranced on a melody,” a Paris courtyard where a red shoe and a blue fountain are the focus, or “unplanned creativity in a moment of intuitive whimsy.”

Sudan, of Northampton, studied visual arts at Holyoke Community College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst and later taught visual arts at Holyoke Street School; now semi-retired, he also serves as the manager for folk-rock singer Roger Salloom and does some videotaping with Northampton Community Television.

Hampshire Life: Talk about the work you’ve been doing. What does it involve, and what are you trying to achieve?

Emikan Sudan: This fall I had a photo-art exhibition at Provisions in Northampton. and this month I’m part of a group exhibition at Hope & Feathers Gallery in Amherst.

Then I’ll be switching gears, editing a short interview series I began while living in Paris several years ago. I interviewed two writers, a visual artist and a musician about their crafts. I finished one: ARS NOVA2 interview with poet/writer Margo Berdeshevsky, which aired on NCTV and can be viewed on YouTube.

HL: What do you draw inspiration from? Do you ever have any “Eureka!” moments?

ES: I suppose my inspiration comes from the uniqueness of an image — does the image tell a story, convey or express emotions? An image that will touch the viewer viscerally as well as colors and light. My eureka moment comes when I am finished tinkering with an image and give a deep sigh and smile.

HL: Name two artists you admire or who have influenced your work. What about their art appeals to you?

ES: One is James Van Der Zee, originally from Lenox, who did the bulk of his photography in Harlem. Even though our styles are different, due to the time period he lived in and the technology, the sheer volume of his work inspired. His work ethic and how he documented African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance was impressive.

I also am inspired by the Impressionists, especially Renoir. I’m intrigued by how they used light in its changing qualities as a metaphor on human perception. In addition, abstract artists Dorothy Osterman and Maja Zürcher taught me how to think outside the box.

HL: What's the most recent exhibition/concert/book reading/other event you've attended and enjoyed?

ES: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where I got lucky and saw local legend Archie Shepp perform. Closer to home I'd recommend the Glendale Ridge Music Series in Southampton: a good place to take a first date and enjoy open-air music, sunshine and the vineyard.  

HL: If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you’d be?

ES: Probably something connected, such as the person making your frames, or a writer.

HL: Dream dinner party — who would you invite?

ES: Well, my deceased parents — still have some questions. Also Barack & Michelle as well as lots of musicians too numerous to list.

HL: Do you listen to music while you're working? What kind?

ES: I listen to blues, funk and a lot of jazz while tinkering with the images.

HL: What do you do when you get stuck?

ES: I leave it alone for a day, then come back refreshed with a fresh view and add the finishing touches.

— Steve Pfarrer


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