Los Angeles artist discusses art and inspiration at Kenneth Hahn

This story is part of Image Number 14, “Elevation,” where we examine beauty as a state of being, a process of fulfillment. Read the entire issue here.

Lacey Lennon is open to an unexpected energy. She starts each day from a place of openness, curiosity, possibilities. “I think I have a lot more to gain from observing and listening to the world around me,” he tells me. “I want things to feel open and not necessarily set.”

His work spans performance and video, but remains rooted in photography. He functions as part director, part witness, moving performers in and out of situations and watching what unfolds.
“In a way, I’m trying to instigate or even facilitate the existing dynamic of what’s already unfolding in front of me,” Lacey tells me. “I’m focused on trying to create images that exceed my expectations, images that I can learn from, I want to learn from my collaborators, so I’ve developed my own techniques to help me relinquish control and not get in my own way.”

I met Lacey a few years ago, at a dinner in New York hosted by a curator from Los Angeles. Recently, I accompanied Kenneth Hahn on his spiritual morning, photographing her in her element. We walk and talk. It felt so simple and fluid, accompanying, soaking in the wonders of the day. Afterwards, we retreated to his study and reminisced about our time together, our work in our respective disciplines, and everything in between. As we reported, we looked at the photos together. “I feel very excited about how these images relate to each other,” she said. “I feel like I could only select 10 images that feel very close to me, and that’s difficult in itself. But something is calling me towards this larger and possibly excessive image viewing experience. Working on this challenge is very exciting to me right now.”

What follows is a series of images from our time together with annotations by Lacey. Witnessing Lacey behind the lens, and then hanging out at her house, felt so striking and beautiful. A meeting I will always remember.

A black and white image of Lacey Lennon sitting on the edge of a bench tying her hair in Kenneth Hahn Park

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I try to keep a reasonable study and do hours. I’m an early riser and on the days I’m teaching, I work out or do a few hours of study before I go to campus. Early morning is so special because, for me personally, two hours at 6 in the morning is like five hours at 3 in the afternoon, I have a lot done.

Close-up of the back of Lacey Lennon's neck.  He wears an orange shirt and a gold chain necklace.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

Writing helps me calm down, and it also focuses my intuition so that when I’m editing and sequencing, I can move freely and visually. I write everything by hand in a notebook or sketch pad. The first round is always all over the place. But if I remember something I’ve written, that’s usually the push I need to go back and piece it together coherently.

Lacey Lennon sitting on a rock with her hand on top of an open notebook.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I go in and out leading or directing the situation. In a way, I am trying to instigate or even facilitate the existing dynamic of what is already unfolding in front of me. I think I appear as someone [who] witness[es] what performers naturally bring to the image indicator but also [who] to instigate[s] actions that align with the larger narrative of the short works.

Lacey Lennon peeking out between two tree branches.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

When I see myself I laugh because I look confident and how do you know what’s going on. But in my head, I’m just wracking my brain, trying to come to some understanding of what I’ve done.

Lacey Lennon sitting in her studio in front of photographs hanging on the wall behind her and stacked on a table next to her.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I leave myself notes for the next day. On the days I’m shooting, I take a lot of photographs. On any shoot, I can do 1,000 or more, I don’t like to walk away from anything without working. Sometimes I know right away what the picture is, and I don’t even have to question it, and then I make little prints of favorites, and they go on the wall. Then I take very detailed notes of what each image contains, and how I think it works, and I internalize it all. So at that point I’m somewhat familiar with the image and I move freely visually compositionally without thinking too much. Get rid of anything that takes away from the fire ones. The fire ones then go to the master printer, which has [all] types of brilliant strategies for color and tones.

Detailed view of a desk with stacked books, measuring tape, yellow post-it notes and pictures stuck on the wall.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

LA was very generative. I mean, the immediate answer is abundant light. He is so prominent in many of my works that I might even call him a key performer. The heat and dryness of LA are conditions for being outside all year round doing things.

A close-up of Lacey Lennon's hand touching the door of a storage box.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I love the photo with the spider web in front of me. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about this network of pictures on the wall, or mapping out and putting together different routes.

Lacey Lennon standing outside surrounded by trees with a spider web in the foreground.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

Looking at this photo of me on the rock, I can see there’s something else going on there; it goes beyond us recreating a picture I made. I told you the story of why I made this picture, things about my family, my father, who passed away shortly before I made it, and you seem to have really heard what I said. And you made a picture that reflected how you processed what I shared. And that, it’s so thoughtful. I feel very taken care of. I appreciate it

A blurry view of Lacey Lennon lying on a rock surrounded by water.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I am focused on trying to create images that exceed my expectations, images that I can learn from, I want to learn from my collaborators, and so I developed my own techniques to help me let go of control and not get in my own way. That’s where the urge comes from to train myself, to move gently in and out of emotional or conscious spaces. It’s really a framework that I’m trying to establish, and then work within that, allowing people to guide me.

Image of a black and white photograph of Lacey in a basketball camp jersey lying on a rock surrounded by water.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

Lacey Lennon resting in front of a window, leaning on her hand and looking off to the side.

(Naima Green/For The Times)

I feel very excited about how these images relate each other I’m curious to show multiple frames of a certain circumstance or scenario. I feel like I could select 10 images that feel very close to me, and that’s difficult in itself. But something is calling me towards this larger and possibly excessive image viewing experience. Working on this challenge is very exciting for me right now.

Naima Green is artist, photographer and educator from New York. Her work is an invitation to participate, witness and consider ways of being sensual, safe and intimate.

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