A little over a year ago, Thea Scott-Fundling found a box of 35mm film negatives that had been packed away for decades. What developed surprised her. The associate professor of interior design at Marymount University realized the shots ranging from portraits to landscapes to architectural space and form were very good.
And what made them so good was how obvious it was that the images came from a place of pure inspiration and fun, Scott-Fundling said.
She remembered the fun she once had of shooting and developing images.
It is just a fleeting second of discovery through the camera lens when the shutter clicks. That is then further investigated in the darkroom when developing black and white prints, she explained.
After that, she got out her old camera and began taking pictures on film again.
This is something I loved and missed, she said, noting that she earned a bachelors degree in art from the University of Texas before getting her masters degree in architecture. Once I went to architecture school, I boxed up all my photography stuff and put it away. As an architect, architecture is all you do.
The timing of the film negatives discovery was perfect: She was looking to reinvigorate the passion for looking and seeing that she had 30 years earlier.
It was obvious that the passion I held when I took those photos spilled over into all the things I pursued at that time, including art, architecture and design, she said.
So when Scott-Fundling went on sabbatical in Rome this past semester, she rented a dark room and used photography to help her explore Italian architecture, particularly its interstitial space.
This is the space, between the interior and the exterior, where the drama of life can take place in unplanned ceremony, she explained.
She recorded spaces in black and white, color film, and digital photography. She especially liked the black and white film.
I like the slowness of the medium, the way you have to think about things like changing for the lighting, she said. Its a more purposeful act. I think you see more and the composition becomes much more visual. Its so much fun that Im going to do it for the rest of my life.
Other highlights of the sabbatical included being a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome, a short stay with the British School at Rome, and several lectures on sustainability. Because of visa restrictions limiting her time in Italy, she also traveled to the United Kingdom, where she spent a few weeks in London and went on a driving tour.
It was great, she said. Not only was I immersed in Italian culture but I was in a community filled with a lot of interdisciplinary discussion and learning.
Scott-Fundlings confident the sabbatical will help her teaching.
Im a designer and also an architect, she said. I draw on different disciplines. This semester Im teaching furniture design.
Shell show her students Italian modern and Italian historic designs and explain the context of the place where this type of furniture came from. She also teaches a studio class for seniors, where she draws on her time abroad.
The whole experience was very enriching, she said. I wanted to change. I wanted to change my trajectory. Im not sure it would have been as enriching if I hadnt gone away and immersed myself in a different culture.
The inspiration remains.
Already as I begin to return to photography as an art form and method of research Im feeling the benefits of this exploration in my personal creative practice, she said. Pursuing something purely for the sake of individual discovery has re-ignited my creative energy toward all of these passions.
Thea Scott-Fundling, an associate professor of interior design at Marymount University, during her fall sabbatical in Italy.
Scott-Fundling rented a darkroom to develop 35mm film negatives and to print black-and-white pictures during her time in Italy.
I like the slowness of the medium, the way you have to think about things like changing for the lighting, Scott-Fundling said of photographing with film.
Scott-Fundling was particularly interested in Italian architectures interstitial space. This is the space, between the interior and the exterior, where the drama of life can take place in unplanned ceremony, she explained.