Erin Stone / Photographer

On 30 June 2012 by Alisa Damaso

The work of Erin Stone may give you a subtle chill. Her series, “Returning”, evokes an eerie feeling — one you might get when you’re alone in your house and you hear a voice.

This captivating series was inspired by Erin’s attitude toward loss, acceptance and departure. She creates a creepy yet comforting effect with these photos — the idea is to find solace in the things that mean the most, “even if they are no longer tangible to us,” Erin says. It’s a look into “an awakening stemming from an end.”

The photographer’s own awakening happened last June, when she left her job of 7 years to become a full-time artist. Stone had taught photography and other subjects at a special education high school for autistic, at-risk, drug addicted and emotionally disturbed teens. Although she loved her job, she needed a change. “By the time I was ready to find something new… I had the skill set to be a professional photographer and I was ready to devote my life to it.”

Part of this push to advance her career as an artist was inspired by a solitary trip to South Asia in 2008. Her travel photos capture locals in their element, using the same haunting aesthetic as her conceptual works. Erin came to a realization. “Since returning,” she says, “I decided that I would not be happy unless I was experiencing life through my lens.”

Growing up, the San Fernando Valley-based artist had tried all mediums of expression but none enabled her creative voice to be heard. Then, at 21, she bought her first camera. A friend was studying photography and they brainstormed concepts for class assignments together. Erin realized she was able to materialize the images in her head effortlessly without the type of precision required for painting or sculpting. She’d found her voice.

The 28-year-old photographer’s conceptual style and surrealist motifs are an approach to examine people, ideas and emotions in her own life. She is driven by her passions for travel, love, psychology and immateriality.

Erin is moved by those who push the boundaries of conventional perceptions of beautiful — Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, David LaChapelle and Jean-Pierre Jeunet; Man Ray, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison — “masters of photographic surrealism,” she says; Robert Mapplethorpe and Helmut Newton and “their exploitation of the perverse.”

In addition to her photography endeavors, Erin is a coordinator for the 11:11 A Creative Collective events, including last summer’s first Canoga Park Artwalk and March’s Westfield Topanga Art Walk.

“Our mission has been to bring an area with over 1.7 million people an outlet for artistic expression,” she says. “We hope to gather and expose local talent to create a notable art scene here [in the San Fernando Valley], rather than traveling into the city.” 11:11 was founded by Erin and 2 others in 2009.

To learn more about Erin, visit her website:

Alisa Damaso

Alisa Damaso is an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer based
in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys the magic of the outdoors,
watching campy horror movies, and singing songs about food getting
stuck in her teeth. Her hand is married to a pencil and she never leaves
the house without a sketchbook.

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