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A Photographer Leaves Boston Academia, Building a Successful Art Career from the Wilds of Maine


Photography featured from Cig's latest book BLUE VIOLET

I’m so excited to invite you to my conversation with Cig Harvey. Cig is an award-winning fine-art and commercial photographer. She has published five sold-out books and her photographs and books are in the permanent collections of museums across the world. Cig is a dear friend and mentor of mine. She is also one of the first people I photographed and interviewed in the early days of Urban Exodus.

Cig and her partner bought a farmhouse in Midcoast Maine in 2007 and moved there full time in 2011. She left a teaching role at Lesley University in Boston to pursue her artistic practice full time. While Cig had established the beginnings of her career in the city, the high cost of living was a barrier to offering her the time and space to explore her creative voice, and provide her with the freedom within her days to make her art.

Cig completed her MFA in Maine at Maine Media Workshops + College. While living there, she fell in love with the exquisite beauty and pristine surroundings. It inspired her to incorporate more of the natural world into her photographs, and solidified the importance of place within her creative practice. As she shares in our interview, Cig had difficulty making art in the city. The cost of living, noise, and frantic working pace left her bereft of what she considers the most important thing for any emerging artist: time and space to create.

While she had gallery representation set up prior to leaving the city, there was plenty of fear and trepidation she had to overcome with leaving a steady paycheck. Cig and her husband were able to plan ahead by purchasing their home a couple years before making the move to country living full time. Making the move required a leap of faith on her part, and a full commitment to her art to guide her.

The life of an artist isn't a steady or straightforward path. It requires an unwavering commitment to self-improvement and expression. Cig committed early on to living a life dedicated to her photographs. Moving to a place that inspired her creativity was an act of love and a brave step in the direction of her dreams. It was in this small northern coastal town that she was able to hone her craft, and connect with the elements of the natural world that speak to her individual expression.

Cig's latest work unabashedly explore the intimacies of femininity using flowers as a metaphor. Her combination of the written word alongside her photographs is evocative, personal, and exceptionally beautiful. Her work is surreal, moody, romantic, and sensual. She pushes the bounds of photography, combining other art forms and sensory experiences to emote in new ways.

In addition to her personal and commercial work, Cig also teaches photography. She loves the process of teaching and has learned so much from the work of her students, who remind her time and time again of the therapeutic value of creativity as well as the individuality each person brings to their art.

In the early days of the pandemic, Cig was asked by the New York Times to participate in a photography piece called Still Lives. NYT asked photographers across the country to provide their reflections on time spent in isolation. During a difficult period, the assignment broke Cig out of her creative lull, and allowed her to reconnect with her creative practice during a time of crisis.

In our conversation we speak about the steps she took to build a thriving fine art career in a small town, advice for emerging artists on ways to get their work noticed, the power of art to expose the difficult truths of the human experience and the incredible healing power of creativity.

This is a story about prioritizing beauty, finding your voice, planting roots where you feel most alive, and cultivating community through creative expression.



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