Know Your Professor: Edie Bresler

August 29, 2013

Edie Bresler

Professor Bresler works in the Department of Art & Music teaching photography. She filled us in on her latest art project: Lottery Economics.

Lottery Economies involves photographing people who sell winning lottery tickets. What sparked this concept?

In any project there are many things responsible for generating an idea. I have a history of finding something on the ground that sparks some idea. In this case, I started noticing all these very colorful tickets withering on the ground of Davis Square where I live in Somerville. Once I noticed them, I started seeing them everywhere. And so that was my first encounter with the lottery. I started noticing the lottery tickets in 2008, when the country was experiencing a huge economic downturn. I myself was experiencing a lot of difficulty economically as were many people I think in the Simmons community, and the lottery became something of a fascination. The more I found out about it the more intrigued I became.

What has been your biggest challenge in this project?

The biggest challenge initially was getting people to agree to be photographed. The problem is trust, right? Photographers have to engage people, get them to trust that they will depict them genuinely and honestly.

As a BCA artist-in-residence, you photographed people on the streets of the South End through "Exchange Economy." What do you hope people took away from this project?

"Wow this was a really interesting way of creating a portfolio." During the last hour of each of the three Community Days, anybody from the community could offer me something of value and trade it in for a photograph, so I received books, original artwork, vouchers for haircuts... [Community building] is a great way to put it - community building through art and encounter. It's a very different experience than one has at an art gallery or museum where you are passively looking at an object on a wall and you're not going home with something and not necessarily engaging with it. It's a very different kind of experience.

What is one person or event on your photography bucket list?

I'm actually working on one! I'm trying to photograph a [lottery ticket] printing plant. What's important about where the tickets are printed is that lots of jobs are created there, which is a part of the lottery that we don't necessarily think about. We think about the winners and all the money, but there are a lot, a lot of jobs.

I want to enlarge the conversation. I want people to be more aware of those hidden stories and I think one of them is the graphic designers involved with the tickets, how the tickets are produced, where they're produced.

One particular town where I want to photograph is in Georgia, and the majority of the town works at this printing plant. I think that's a pretty big story.