Artist Feature: Erik Gould

Erik Gould is a fine art photographer who lives with his wife Rebecca Siemering and their daughter Asha in Pawtucket, RI. Erik is the museum photographer for the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.

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Where do your ideas originate for your personal photography projects?

Curiosity and walking. Usually, it’s something visual at first, and then I start to ask questions and read. Sometimes it goes the other way; I’ll read something that makes me notice a place or a thing in a new way.

What are your favorite places in Providence to head to with a camera?

I’m drawn to fringe spaces and places on the margins. Photographs are made of time, and I like to find places where past time seems to reveal itself in fragments and layers. I look for borders and the places where the public and the private and the “natural” and the built bump into each other.

How does taking pictures in specific locations affect your relationship or connections to those places?

Giving your complete attention to place inevitably creates emotional and memory connections, and the place changes you. I’ve particularly noticed when I sit to make a field recording, I can’t move, I have to calm my restlessness. I enter a state of becoming very aware of the “placeness” of a place, and I find that very interesting. Later, when viewing the photographs and I recall the time there, I’m made aware once again that viewing a photograph of a place is not the same as being there, and what I’m viewing is the internal experience, I’m seeing myself experiencing the place.

What are the changes you make to your creative process to go from your quiet analog images to large scale installations and video work?

One of the fun parts of any project is finding out what process and presentation seem to make sense for the idea and the content. My basic process doesn’t change much; it always involves walking, photography, writing, and research. Sometimes I’ll add audio recording and video to that.

Film or digital? Darkroom or inkjet? If you were to chime in on the photography debate between analog or digital black and white photography, what would you say?

For me, it’s no debate at all; it’s just one of those barstool arguments. I grew up with film, so I know it, and more importantly, I still enjoy what it looks like and the processes involved. I work with digital tools as well, and I like what’s possible with those. Inkjet printing offers some beautiful choices in paper surfaces and scale. It’s about finding what’s right for the project at hand. At the same time, I’m not really in the camp that says, “it doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s the final thing that matters.” The final thing is how you get there. It’s a summation of the entire process, your thinking and walking, doubts and ideas, writing, the time spent, and the time in between, leaving it to sit and coming back to it. That’s all in there, and it matters much. The trick is to choose something you enjoy and engage with it entirely.

Will you tell us more about your photo book making practice? Are you currently working on any books?

I’m embarrassed to even call it a practice! But yes, I love books, and I often say that the book is the natural home of the photograph, it certainly is for me. Currently, I’m working on a little book of some pictures I made last year of a hidden spot on a local river that I’ve titled, Well. I’m also pulling together images for two more collections of pictures that will be added to the Rhode Island Photographic Survey Guide series. One will feature roadside memorials and the other intersections. I love the way meaning accrues when photographs are grouped and the ways that images can play off one another in sequence. Books are also just great objects to sit with and hold.

click here to view/purchase a beautiful book creation by Erik.

What are some of your photographic influences or favorite photographer’s work to look at right now?

A couple of people I’ve been looking at lately are Vanessa Winship, a UK based photographer who has a really interesting way of looking places and moments on the margins of things and Raymond Meeks, whose work just amazes me in the way he looks at and composes elements and in the prints and bookworks he creates.

Do you ever collaborate with other local artists? What are some projects that you have worked on with others?

I enjoy collaboration. I did theatre in school, and I think that got me hooked on working with others in some creative endeavor. In the late nineties, Ray Canavan and I ran a photo gallery in a small space in the Arcade, I’ve co-mentored with Mackenzie Taplin at New Urban Arts. Peter Goldberg and I have a giant camera obscura project that we’ve done for many years (next set up is on October 12th), and Erik Carlson and I have collaborated on many projects including site-specific public art pieces, two bus shelters for the RIPTA R-line and just recently we did a projection and sound performance of a piece entitled Silvered: Tracing Gorham at Mashapaug Pond, which we just performed on October 4th. That was built in part on an earlier collaboration, the documentation of the Gorham Manufacturing complex prior to its demolition in 1998. Two (or more) heads are better than one.

Providence seems to influence a large chunk of your work. How do you see Providence changing for artists, and what would you like to see change for artists living and working here?

I’ve never wanted to make work about some exotic “other” place or to be dependent on expensive travel, wherever I am is always interesting enough if I’m willing to look and learn. Providence certainly is. Providence certainly has changed but the struggle to find venues for showing and selling work seems to remain a constant. Collective action may be a way out of that.

Give us an insight as to what it is like photographing for the RISD Museum? What’s the most peculiar or most challenging thing you’ve ever had to photograph for the RISD museum?

I have a fun job, and I’m grateful for it, it’s great to be able to see so much exciting art up close. Every type of thing has its challenges to light and photograph, and most of the time, I’m working to stay out of the way and let the object speak. To be honest, I work with some super smart and creative people, and my big challenge every day is attempting to keep up with them and do the best I can do to match that.

Thank you, Erik for sharing your process and words with us. You truly are the man behind the lens here in Providence and we are happy to have shared so many years working with you at iolabs.

To see the vast amount of work accomplished by Erik, visit his site


FRAMES IN FOCUS: Mounting Substrates

We have some of the greatest masters in the mounting game here at iolabs. We are able to cold-mount up to 60” x 120” - that’s BIG!

Whether you plan to frame or exhibit frame-less, most artwork will require some sort of mounting board adhered to the back of the print. A mounted print could be finished in a number of ways. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need a framing suggestion for an upcoming project.

To mount to a substrate, we use a cold-press mounting machine with a double sided adhesive that permanently adheres work to the substrate. Depending on the size and intention of the finished work, we recommend certain materials over others. For example, if your artwork is oversized, you will want to consider the weight of the work. Additionally, if you add the weight of a traditional frame with glass, there are recommended materials over others. We are happy to advise in this decision process.

We carry a certain stock of mounting boards at all times but can source special requests if needed. In stock we carry:

  • Acid-free foamcore - 3/16" thickness in white or black

  • Archival museum board - 1-4 ply thickness in white, black, or natural

  • Dibond - Most rigid mounting substrate -aluminum sandwiching PVC plastic, in 1/8" thickness

  • Gatorboard - A more rigid option than foamcore and available in larger sizes, up to 60" x 120", in white or black. 3/16" standard - other thicknesses available upon request

  • Komatex - Rigid PVC plastic with cleaner edges than Gatorboard or foamcore. 1-6mm thickness in white, black, or gray, with custom colors available upon request

  • Plexiglass - 1/8" standard acrylic (contact for colored acrylic)



In God We Trust: Reflections on Religion in America
National Juried exhibition curated by Nezka Pfeifer
Oct 12 - November 16, 2019
Opening Reception Saturday, October 12, 6-8pm
Curator’s Talk Nezka Pfeifer, October 23, 7pm, 2019


ReSeeding the City: Ethnobotany in the Urban
Opening reception October 26, 2019 5:30 – 8pm
Rhode Island State House, Lower Level Gallery


Thursday, October 17, 7:00pm
RISD Auditorium

Saturday, October 19,10am - 5pm
20 Washington Place, Auditorium

Saturday, October 12 at 10am-5pM


Dance performance: Moments of Nice
with ali kenner brodsky and MorganEve Swain
Thursday, October 24th, 7pm


Open House: Saturday, October 19, 11am – 2pm
Slavery and Legacy Walking Tour: Saturday, October 19, 11am-12pm


Halloween Iron Pour 2019: Odyssey!
Saturday, October 19, 5pm – 9pm


Forever Young: Representations of Childhood and Adolescence
Jen Corace
October 5 - December 31, 2019


Politics and the Media Talk
Thursday, October 10, 5pm – 7pm


Author Reading: Jess Row with Karan Mahajan
Friday, October 11, 7-8:30pm