The art world has a reputation of being a competitive place, but often here, in the nation’s capital, we see camaraderie bloom between artists. The new photography group, Contrario Collective, has a mission to unite photographers to inspire each other and create collectively. They opened an exhibit featuring work by their members last Thursday, so I stopped by to see the display and talk to the photographers about what their goal is for the collective.
Victoria Milko says she felt the need to assemble a collective in D.C. that is a “constructive place where a bunch of us can get together, take photos, and critique each other’s work with no pretense of being competitive.” In the art community, she says, “there are two sides to the spectrum: you can share your information and learn from each other or, you can be really competitive and not talk about what you’re doing.” Milko describes her friend, Emma McAlary as easy-going, kind, and creative, making her the perfect partner to help organize a collective. The two women share the same values and ideas about photography today, especially in Washington, D.C. McAlary says, “Victoria and I got together one day and we were just talking about the landscape of the D.C. art scene—photography specifically—and we thought there isn’t quite a place for us. And we want to go against the grain—hence the name—Contrario.” They wanted to enlist more like-minded photographers to create a collective based on what Milko describes as an “idea that isn’t typically found in the photography scene.”