I have always subscribed to the idea that you photograph what you’re involved in. What you’re participating in, as opposed to going out and looking at other things. I’ve also always lived my life as an artist.
I grew up in Nebraska and I was influenced by Jack Kerouac and his adventures. I headed west as soon as I was able to leave home. I moved to California in 1979 and I lived in Hollywood and hung out with the early punk rockers like the Germs and X. To me, the Seattle scene was just an extension of the same thing. I moved up here in ’81 and I think punk rock was a way to connect with people. It was a way to move to a new town and find somebody that had some kind of commonality.
Seattle had this magnetism for a while. It was really attracting all these awesome artists. I think Seattle has had a lot of really good influences on the world. These photographs are about the germination of those ideas.
When I started off they talked about the male gaze in art. I always thought why can’t women have their own gaze? What’s my point of view as the woman? I sort of always photographed around that. I feel like that’s some of what this book is about. It’s a conceptual feminist manifesto for the Wild West. It’s commentary on the male gaze versus the female gaze. It’s about promoting a culture of inclusion—calling people out who take on social outcasts. This project is basically 30 years in the making.
A lot of times I would shoot almost automatically and obsessively. That’s part of why it took so long to sort through all these negatives. There was a lot of really interesting stuff that I either didn’t remember shooting or looked different when I actually looked at it again. When I shoot things it’s often in a highly charged emotional environment. Whatever is going on at the time can feel kind of overwhelming. That is one of the reasons I like to put my negatives away and look at them later when I can look at them just for the images that they are—not remember the exact details of what was going on and how I felt at the moment I took the picture.