Even a small step towards learning something new can lead somewhere far beyond any expectations. For Angie Keller, what started as an interest in photography has led her on an unimaginable adventure and what she considers her “American Dream.”
Angie first decided to dabble in art classes during her time teaching Spanish at Missouri State. After taking a summer class in 2005, Angie rekindled a love for photography and continued to hone her skills behind the lens until 2014. “I took every photography class available more than once,” Angie adds.
In the following interview with the Art + Design Blog, Angie shares how her photos gained national recognition, the influence her background as a Peruvian-American has on her work, and how she plans to evolve her photography going forward.
Your work has been added to the Library of Congress—what did that experience mean to you?
In March 2021, a curator of photography in the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC contacted me through my website. As a curator, part of his job was to recommend photography for acquisition by the library. He had recently viewed my photographs “Retablos of Lima” and wanted to set up a phone conversation with me to talk about my work.
By September, my work was part of The Prints & Photographs Division, which is home to an estimated 14 million photographs. As an immigrant to this country, this was truly an American Dream for me. My work was rooted in this country.
What was your process behind the series “Retablos of Lima”?
As with any photography project, “Retablos of Lima” was a metamorphosis. It started with certain thoughts and ideas and developed into a collage, something completely different than any of my previous projects. I created and recreated the same “retablo” over and over until I felt that it was finished. This project was not just about taking a photograph, it was about being creative.
Do you have a favorite photo or photographic project from your work?
To me all of my projects were exciting and adventurous. I was able to travel throughout Peru and learned about my native country. The thing that I enjoyed the most, was living in different communities and being a part of people’s everyday lives. My first project “Miracles” was a year long pilgrimage throughout Peru. I believe that with his work I was encouraged to continue as a photographer, as an artist.
Do you have any projects in progress? What would you like to explore with your work going forward?
When I lost my husband, Craig, to cancer, I felt empty, a feeling that I had never experienced before. A part of me died too. During this time of grief, I decided to work on a new project that is about memories of my life and the creation of my new self. This new project is a pilgrimage, a new emotional journey into the unknown.
Visit Angie Keller’s website to explore more of her work.
Taylor Ladd is a graduate assistant for the Department of Art + Design. She is working towards her master’s degree in writing at Missouri State University with professional interests in writing about art, culture, and food.