“Displacement” by Photographer Jeremy Starn

Virginia-based photographer and artist Jeremy Starn has turned his “Displacement” series into a photo book. Showcasing 80 black and white images, the project follows the building of Ceiba, a 150′ foot wooden tall ship currently being built on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. The goal is to provide zero emission cargo freight shipping between the Americas using traditional sailing practices. The shipyard and vessel were built by a committed and passionate group of traditional boat builders and creatives. The photo book shares the building of the ship and the life of the builders.

Jeremy Starn was selected as one of the winners of our 2023 Art & Photo Book Awards! With support from Bookmobile, we helped Jeremy turn his series into a book, available now! If you want the opportunity to publish a book of your own work, you can apply for our 2024 Art & Photo Book Awards here.

See more from “Displacement” below along with our interview with Jeremy!

Booooooom: What got you into art and photography in the first place?

Jeremy Starn: I’ve been making photographs since I built my own darkroom when I was 16. I attended The Art Institute of Boston and studied photography in a pretty intensive program. However, I’ve always had other interests, mainly around globalization, land use management and development. Since school I’ve lived in Asia, South America, Europe and around the United States working as a photojournalist and researcher. Since returning to the States in 2023 I’ve begun adding painting and sculpture to my photography when I exhibit work in galleries.

What is driving you or inspiring you to continue to make work now?

I’m really interested in how humans shape their environment. Both on the personal and cultural/societal scale. The work I’m most passionate about is usually in response to environmental human interventions, such as pollution, resource extraction, degradation and loss. However, I’m also really inspired by people that make it their mission to confront these imbalances and work to offer positive solutions.

Share a challenging moment you’ve experienced in your artistic journey.

In making this book, and in other similar projects, it’s always tough to step out of myself and view the work from someone who has no context. I want my work to be accessible to most people so being able to remove my own connection to the work can be quite difficult sometimes. I want to trust myself, my experience, and my preferences while at the same time making sure the work is not going down a path where it only makes sense to me, or only for my enjoyment.

“Displacement” is about the building of Ceiba as well as the life of the builders. Can you share one of your favourite stories from the project?

Well, living at the shipyard in tents, eating and working together in a sort of commune setting was a once in a life experience. Being surrounded by so many passionate people was a constant thrill and very inspiring. The largest wooden structures on the ship, weighing over 2 tons, were lifted by hand using ropes and they had to be placed exact the first time. This was of course very stressful but also an amazing feat to witness and a lot of fun to photograph. I’ve never seen people work so hard on such a pipe dream, literally destroying their bodies because they loved the work and believed in the mission.

How does it feel to finally see your work in book form?

It feels great to see the work finally printed. I always knew that this series would eventually become a book and winning this award really expedited the timeline I had in my head. It’s really a dream realized and a great honor to be selected.

What is a goal you’ve set for yourself that you haven’t achieved yet?

I would like to have an exhibit of these photographs, printed large and on display with text written by the people involved. This would make a really amazing exhibition including pieces of the ship, audio narrations from the builders and a model of the ship. This is all very possible, but it’s going to take some funding and finding the right space for it.

If you had to give one piece of advice or words of encouragement to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Don’t stop making work, especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s a misconception that great work comes solely from sudden inspiration. It takes practice like anything else and showing up every day to do the work is necessary for inspiration to come consistently. Sometimes on bad days, the work is shit because I wasn’t feeling it, but it’s still better than nothing and at least I impressed that habit of practice in a little bit more.

Call to Submit: Art & Photo Book Award

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Call to Submit: “Array” Photo & Art Features

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