"Girls, Girls, Girls" returns with photographer Katie McCurdy, this time visiting the repurposed darkroom studio of artist Pia Howell. Working from the Camera Club New York, Pia has a unique practice in painting gestural, loosely-figurative compositions onto transparencies, and then contact printing them to become vivid, abstract photographs. She has shown her work at Bodega, Golden Age and Queer Thoughts, as well as creating beautiful textiles in collaboration with the likes of Baggu and Études.
Tell us about...
Your studio at Camera Club, what's it like there?
I heard about CCNY near the end of college when I began looking for a new darkroom that I could afford, and then I interned here for a couple years in exchange for using the darkroom. I honestly love this place. It’s accessible 24 hours — I’ve definitely spent entire nights here printing and getting ready for shows.
What happens in here, usually?
There's usually someone hanging out, maybe shooting in the studio or scanning film, and a couple people printing. I love this process even if I'm not shooting film any more, or shooting much at all. My technique has evolved into painting transparencies to contact print, so I'll come in with a set of transparencies to work with and experiment, printing for like six or seven hours, until I get some stuff I like.
Can you tell me about your bag?
It’s a leather Basic Tote. I work and sometimes design for BAGGU, and I think this may be my favorite thing we make. I love color, but I usually end up wearing black.
Where do you like to go on your downtime?
I love thrifting — my favorite is actually near the darkroom, the Salvation Army on 46th Street. Another good Midtown shopping spot is "Joey New York" — favorite place to get fake gold jewelry and cheap baseball caps.
Is your latest book, Duane Reade Lunatic, inspired by Midtown?
No, but I like that comparison. The title is my way of trying to get at an uncomfortable boundary between normalcy and lunacy. I made some of the original ink paintings for the book while on a nude beach with my friends, if that gives a better idea.