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5 Questions with Hailee Potter

FOR photographer Hailee Potter, traveling is an artistic inspiration.

“Belle Nature de Lacoste: Perseveretrees and Beautes Bleues,” up at Foxy Loxy until Oct. 29, is the result of Potter’s studying in Lacoste while studying at SCAD. A native of Woodbury, Minnesota, Potter earned her Masters from SCAD in 2017 and is working to become a professor of photography.

Prior to attending SCAD, Potter visited Guatemala on a study abroad trip during her undergrad tenure at Cornell College in Iowa.

We spoke with Potter last week.

1. Tell me more about the exhibition.

“Belle Nature de Lacoste” means “the nature of Lacoste” in French because I wanted to be fancy. It’s a show that consists of photographs, digital and black and white, and then there are cyanotypes. The cyanotypes are from nature—I use objects like leaves and branches. The paper was from Lacoste, I used water from Lacoste. It was all very local to Lacoste besides the chemicals.

The body of work of “Perseveretrees,” in short, is portraits of trees, but not just these beautiful leaves trees. There are some that look barren and worn. I believe trees can be like people. All different shapes and sizes, through all the seasons, and they’re still standing. I picked the word “persevere” because they persevere through this weather or dry heat and they’re still there. I made the connection to humanity and how they’re related.

2. Is "Belle Nature de Lacoste" indicative of your usual style, or is it a departure?

I do a lot of environmental portraiture; the stuff in Foxy I like to do for fun. The cyanotypes are an exploration project I dove into on the trip.

3. What did you take away from the trip?

It was just an amazing trip, for lack of other words. One thing I really loved is that I was in this secluded city—you’re not in Paris—and I went out every day and I just explored, I walked for miles. The nature and the land was so different from what I’m used to. It was so great to immerse yourself into that and put down your phone. It forced me to put my American life aside and immerse myself into the culture. People went to France but stayed on their phones. That’s not traveling! That’s staying somewhere.

I wanted to get the most, not even for my buck, but for my life experience. It’s about experiencing the world. In America we forget how much we have. It’s not that France doesn’t have a lot, because they do, but things are different. You learn about the food, styles of clothing, how they live with less or more than we do.

4. How do you put aside your American life while traveling?

When I went to Lacoste and Guatemala, I didn’t use a phone. I just let go. I temporarily deactivated my Facebook. I didn’t want to be tied to something that was back home because I’m literally thousands of miles away. In Guatemala I wanted to be in the culture and learn the language. I didn’t want to just learn it from a book. That’s what inspired me and what opened my eyes.

5. What advice would you give to people who want to study abroad?

I would recommend studying abroad, just going somewhere out of the country. You can go places in America, but going to a whole different country, the culture is so rich and you learn a new side of this world, a side you never knew existed and you never get to experience. It can really enrich someone’s cultural self. You need to immerse yourself. The second you’re looking at your phone is something you can miss.