"As an American, I never thought that one day I'd end up in New Zealand, teaching students about the life and works of one of Aotearoa's most legendary photographers – but here I am!
I'm the first-ever recipient of the Marti Friedlander Lectureship at the University of Auckland, and I think I'm really lucky to be here lecturing about the incredibly important art that is photography.
We're all photographers now – we all take pictures with our phones, and we look at so many images all the time. Everyone should have a visual literacy of how to decode images, not just students!
My journey here started in Massachusetts. My mum was a psychology professor and my dad an artist, so I guess it makes sense that I've ended up where I am!
After bouncing around the east and west coasts of the US for my under-graduate degree, masters and PhD, I travelled to India and continued my research.
I was blown away when I arrived there – the social complexity is extraordinary.
It's the same reason I love New York – at any given moment there are 50 different things happening at once. I became addicted to trying to under-stand that sort of situation.
Marti herself came to New Zealand from London, a huge metropolis, and she made her name photographing daily life in comparatively sleepy New Zealand.
As I started to learn her story, I was really struck by how adventurous she'd been to come and make her life in New Zealand, a place she didn't know. I came here from New York and Delhi, so I understand – I thought it was remarkable she could find such magic and mystery in a new place.
I saw an ad for this job online and I thought it would be amazing. There are so many brilliant contemporary photographers from all over the world that I didn't know, so it didn't surprise me at all that there was someone with a wonderful history that I wasn't familiar with.
I sent in my application and was delighted and surprised to hear back!
My husband, Martin, and I packed up our lives, and I was so excited to start my career in a completely different continent.
I love that the position focuses on photography.
Having a photography specialist at the University of Auckland is brand new, and it's an incredible position as it was endowed by the Marti Friedlander Trust.
Establishing such as a trust was also a remarkable act of generosity by Marti's husband, Gerrard − she passed away in 2016 following a battle with breast cancer.
The trust has made my job possible, as well as allow students to learn about photography in a way they wouldn't otherwise.
The best part of my job is the students.
I love thinking and talking about photographs and art history, but when you see a student learning about these things for the first time, you just remember how amazing it is.
In fact, I think any time students have the chance to learn about something a bit more specialised is a wonderful opportunity.
Every genre of art history is important in its own way, but I think photography is becoming more and more relevant to everybody's day-to-day lives.
I reckon Marti would have been thrilled about the lectureship. Any photographer would hope that people could have the opportunity to think carefully and deeply about photographs, and understand their history.
I have to say, when people learn about my job they often say things such as, 'I knew Marti! I loved her, she was an amazing woman, she was such a firecracker.'
I feel like I would have really, really liked her, and I'm sad I never got the chance to meet her.
I'm not a photographer myself anymore − I did a bit in high school and I think I'd like to get back into it at some point, but I think after you study, for me at least, I would have such high standards for myself that perhaps it might be hard!
Martin (48) has been here in New Zealand with me. He had a sabbatical from his job as a professor of philosophy and I think he's really fallen in love with the country.
He looks forward to spending as much time as he can here when he's not teaching. When I'm not teaching, I spend some time in New York as well.
So far, I've really, really enjoyed New Zealand. It's incredibly beautiful – I guess everyone says that – but the plant life is just incredible. I feel like I'm living in an enchanted kingdom!"
If you could study anything else, what would it be?
That's hard! Writing.
Do you have a favourite artist?
No, too many!
One thing about New Zealand that we do better than the US?
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