When I talked to Max Taylor he was on his way to set up his solo exhibition at the Bushwick Community Darkroom, which opens this Friday, March 15. The exhibition is an exploration of the artist’s journey as a self-taught photographer. A little over eight years ago, Taylor was working on Wall Street as an investment banker.
“I felt empty inside. I had to leave,” Taylor said about his past life. His wake up call came rolling in 2012 with Hurricane Sandy. Alone in his Water Street apartment, Taylor was taken back by the power of the hurricane and felt the urge to document its trechor. Limited to document his experience of the rage of the storm to just his iPhone, Taylor soon bought his first DSLR and never looked back.
Now a member of the Bushwick Community Darkroom, Taylor’s artistic practice has bloomed into a continuum of experimentation. “This journey feels like pulling a thread,” Taylor said, “I just keep pulling and more seems to happen.” Taylor’s photographs are more than just photographs; he utilizes elements of sculpture, paint, and collage, giving each piece a three-dimensional element. Each print is a concoction of different materials and Taylor’s imagination, resulting in vision-like portraits of fleeting movements and moments in time.
Rather than sticking to a repetitive process, Taylor tries out new recipes for each work, making each print unique. “The darkroom has become my creative home,” Taylor said. He began experimenting with liquid emulsions on a variety of surfaces to produce the images in his head. To Taylor, the process is just as important as the product as it is a way of physically processing his creative ideas: “I am a self-taught photographer and my darkroom knowledge has grown in a similar way through extensive experimentation and a relentless pursuit of my dreams and ideas.”
Taylor’s artistic journey has not only been one of experimentation and manifesting creative visions, but has also been a catalyst for finding community. As a self-taught photographer, Taylor has learned new techniques from fellow darkroom members. “Everyone there is so incredibly talented and supportive of each other,” Taylor said about Bushwick Community Darkroom. The darkroom was founded by Lucia Rollow in 2011 and is run by volunteers. It offers 24/7 access to darkrooms and hosts classes, exhibitions, and community events surrounding photography and film.
When Taylor isn’t in the darkroom, he’s helping others take perfect their dating profiles by taking their photos. “Surprisingly, there’s a lot more depth to the job than it seems,” Taylor said. He helps those who have trouble presenting themselves online feel comfortable with themselves and getting back out in the dating world through portraiture. Taylor describes the job as connecting with people on a human level.
In the next year, Taylor hopes to deepen his roots not only in the Bushwick arts community, but also in different artistic communities around the world, “The world of art is infinite, and there’s so much to learn.”
All images courtesy of Max Taylor.
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.