by Catherine Roberts, OSAI PR Counselor
OSAI guest artist Lauren Greenfield is a major photographer and filmmaker, whose work primarily deals with the effects popular culture and media have on individuals in American society. She is best known for her recent documentary The Queen of Versailles, about Jackie and David Siegel, owners of timeshare company Westgate Resorts, and their doomed attempt to build the largest single family home in America. The film has won many awards, including the Sundance Film Festival's U.S. Directing Award.
Greenfield has worked extensively through photography and documentary film on the culture and cult of beauty and femininity, including a documentary about an eating disorder treatment clinic. She showed many of these photos and clips of films during a Friday night presentation in the Performing Arts Center.
On Saturday morning, Greenfield screened her 30-minute film Beauty CULTure, which was featured in an eponymous exhibition at The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. She spent the rest of the morning with the OSAI film and photography students, answering questions and discussing her work.
Greenfield told students that one of the goals of her filmmaking is to reveal "how we are all complicit in promoting the culture we all live with.” She explained that the extreme characters she profiles also serve to reveal some of the ways each of us engage in less dramatic versions of the same behaviors.
She recommended that students take advantage of the opportunities afforded by participating in OSAI, calling it “something that can kind of lift you over the next 10 years.” She challenged them not to rely on a particular company or position, but instead to “build your own community of support.”
Greenfield's work has earned her an astounding amount of honors and grants, including the designation by American Photo magazine as one of "The 25 Most Important Photographers Now." It is a huge honor to have her at OSAI this year.