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For many nowadays, hip-hop is both throwback and soundtrack, something much of us associate with our rebellious youth. The same is true for Annie Noelker—it’s just that for her, she’s only throwing it back a few years. The 21-year-old emerging photographer (you may recall her work from last March’s Image Issue), was inspired by a [...]
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For many nowadays, hip-hop is both throwback and soundtrack, something much of us associate with our rebellious youth.

The same is true for Annie Noelker—it’s just that for her, she’s only throwing it back a few years.

The 21-year-old emerging photographer (you may recall her work from last March’s Image Issue), was inspired by a sudden introduction to Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar upon her arrival at CCAD, and since then she’s been focused on putting a finer lens on the artists of her generation.

More specifically, the ones in her city.

Noelker is going beyond the world of standard-fare music photography, putting emphasis on portraiture over promo, in the process turning herself into a versatile auteur akin to her subjects. MOUTH Magazine is her contribution to the world of hip-hop and photography, a stunning document of the city’s nascent hip-hop culture shot, written, edited, and designed by Noelker. Using her platform as an artist to delve deeper with each subject, she’s created a truly collaborative project—a mixed media mixtape of the misrepresented and often-unnoticed.

“Through imagery [rappers] are often portrayed as personas or characters,” Noelker said. “There’s no humans, mistakes, or scars.”

The daughter of a photojournalist, it’s a natural progression for the young and talented Noelker, who’s uncovered a whole subset of artists she was unaware of before MOUTH.

From Correy Parks to OG Vern to lesser known local artists like Bree the Rapper, Broke Bois, and Yogi Split, she’s created a new narrative and a “safe space,” for each to be humanized.

“I hope my photography speaks to Columbus, their place in music, their stories and what they do for this city.”

In the meanwhile, we wanted Noelker to speak more specifically about what MOUTH means to her. 

You say in your letter from the editor that you wanted to visually emulate the artists. How did you achieve that? Sound and imagery are two completely different means of communication. Sound has a quality to it that I don’t think can ever properly be translated visually, and visa versa. They are different languages. They can reflect one another, but can’t properly be compared.

All of your images are in black and white. Was this to maintain equivalency between your subjects? Black and white imagery has always had extreme significance for me. It strips away the distraction and glamor that traditionally follows hip-hop photography. For me, it allows emphasis on truth and honesty.

What photographers or publications inspired you while shooting? I really admire the work of Hayley Louisa Brown. She is a portraiture photographer as well as the creator of BRICK magazine, which served as a huge inspiration for MOUTH mag. I also really love Olivia Rose and the honesty of her images and in how she approaches her subjects. I love the work of Driely S, Diwang Valdez, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Josef Koudelka.

What other Columbus-based photographers were influential behind MOUTH? I really look up to Hana Mendel, Wyze, and Kate Sweeney but the idea of MOUTH was completely my own.

We know there’s always a discussion of misogyny in hip-hop lyrics. How do you approach that as a female artist? Does this younger generation of hip-hop have a different voice when it comes to equality? Before you ask me, a white woman, how I feel about misogyny in hip-hop, firstly, ask yourself why you consider it the responsibility of the working woman to denounce male misogyny in any industry. I find myself more often asked about misogyny than the content of my imagery itself, which is not only demeaning as an artist, but entirely hypocritical. Secondly, and more importantly so, ask yourself the context in which you are asking me this question. I am white—I cannot, and should not, pretend to understand the realities faced by black artists in the hip hop community. Misogyny exists in every industry, and in all forms, should be rejected. Misogyny is not limited to those industries demonized and profited off of by white media, though we are very much made to believe it is such. This ideology is harmful, I do not wish to contribute to it.

Did you do all the interviews/images, or did you outsource some of them to other writers/photographers? Why or why not? I conducted all the interviews and photographed these artists myself, as I have, and continue to have, a very specific vision for MOUTH. I taught myself InDesign to make sure the design was exactly what I desired. It’s my baby. I spent countless hours with these artists, behind the camera, writing the interviews, and putting all the pieces together. The final page serves as a dedication to the artists. MOUTH is theirs. 

You can purchase MOUTH at annienoelkerphoto.com.

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Kate Morgan, 2D mixed media artist

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Kate Morgan began developing her ghostly, layered two-dimensional portraits after going back to school at the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005. She already had some background in visual arts through her work in fashion and commercial photography, so the transition to drawing and painting was organic.

Morgan’s textured collages are inspired by folklore, mythology and a variety of artistic periods — especially Byzantine art. The 2011 Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist alum and 2019 exhibiting artist welcomes a wide array of complex themes into her pieces — including symbolic, cultural, historical and spiritual themes — while utilizing layers of vintage paper and original drawings to create visual depth and a sense of mystery.

Her pieces are purposely vague, leaning toward more minimalistic ideas to allow for wider interpretation by audiences. Largely her art depicts the female form, with as many layers and stories to tell as that of every human being. This is done with an eclectic assortment of materials — including sheet music, German Biblical pages, newspaper and maps — to add detail in both a topical and textural sense.

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And yet, Morgan still continues to look for a challenge. From venturing away from her familiar blue hues to exploring different mediums like ceramics, her work knows no creative limits.

Morgan has exhibited at the Columbus Arts Festival nearly every year since 2011. She has gone on to win two jurors’ choice awards in the 2D category at the Columbus Arts Festival, as well as sell and have work juried at other major festivals across the country. In Columbus, her work can be seen as part of the Columbus Makes Art and Donatos Pizza collaborative mural “Every Piece Is Important” at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Morgan has a BFA from CCAD and currently works out of her Franklinton studio in Columbus. Experience this stunning work first hand when you visit her at booth M572 on the Main Street Bridge during the Columbus Arts Festival from June 7-9 at the downtown riverfront.

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Arts & Culture

Be Square: Changes coming to arts community at 400 W Rich

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If you haven’t visited the thriving arts community at 400 West Rich street in awhile, you might be surprised to see how much things have changed. Now, the minds behind the city’s hub for the arts are changing things up to better reflect the area’s evolution.

400 Square is the new collective moniker for the array of concepts that currently occupy the buildings on the 400 block of Rich street in Franklinton. The rebrand seeks to unify the community of artistic innovators who call the area developed by Urban Smart Growth their creative home.

Promo art for 400 Square by Anthony Damico

Spaces encompassed in the rebrand include Strongwater, The Vanderelli Room, and Chromedge Studios, and of course, the studios at 400 W. Rich. While the name may be changing, the group remains committed to providing and sustaining a thriving hub for creatives through education, resources, and entertainment opportunities in the area.

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With the launch of 400 Square, Urban Smart Growth Director of Operations Seth Stout has led his team to develop new offerings for each of the growing spaces. Food and Beverage Director Lauren Conrath and Events Director Molly Blundred have taken the lead with changes to the Strongwater brand, while Community Director Stephanie McGlone and Art Director AJ Vanderelli are facilitating programming for all ages and abilities on the artist side.

Through all of the changes on the way, the staff at 400 Square are committed to bringing the public the same high quality of workshops, events, exhibitions, and more that have always been part of their unique creative community.

Stay tuned for more info—the new 400 Square officially rolls out during the weekend of Columbus Arts Fest 2019, June 7-9.

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Arts Fest Preview: Cousin Simple to wow crowd with energy, passion

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As a young up-and-coming band, Cousin Simple is excited to play at this year’s Columbus Art’s Festival. In their two years as a band, they have already done a lot of really cool things, such as making a single with L.A. multi-platinum music producer David Kershenbaum, playing at Vans Warped Tour at Blossom Music Center, and selling out shows at the A&R Bar, the Basement and The Big Room Bar. But there is much more they want to accomplish including recording more music, making a music video and playing more shows in and out of Columbus.

The band members are all Columbus born and raised. Four members currently attend The Ohio State University, while their drummer Joel is finishing up his junior year at New Albany high School. Cousin Simple brings an energy and passion to the stage and gives everything they have to their performances, regardless of the crowd size. They just released a new single in February called Honeybee, available on iTunes and Spotify and have a single set to release May 10 titled “Star Destroyers.”

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Columbus is a great city for musicians. Whether you’re in the indie, rock, or hip hop scene, there are other musicians and music industry people willing to help you out. Columbus also takes a great sense of pride in its “local gems.” People love to see musicians who are doing well in their hometown and are willing to support them in many ways.

There are so many organizations that have taken this to heart and are helping bands get great opportunities. CD102.5, WCBE 90.5, PromoWest Productions and the Columbus Music Commission have helped Cousin Simple get airtime, shows and support. When it comes to music cities, Columbus may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there are so many bands and musicians doing exciting things it’s making the future bright for them and the Columbus music scene.

But Cousin Simple recognizes that none of this would be possible without the support of their family, friends and FANS that come to each and every show. They are humbled and motivated by their audiences who energize them to make every performance an experience their fans won’t forget. 

Cousin Simple will perform on the Big Local Music Stage on Rich Street on Friday night, June 7 at 7:45 p.m.

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