Untitled #07-02-18-486, 2018

2 new strobes,

2 new models,

and lots more opera

Last year was another productive journey in the course of my work as I continued to integrate more abstract forms within the mirrors. Perhaps my biggest area of growth in 2018 was my use of lighting in the studio, in primarily two ways:

  1. I significantly upgraded the lighting system in my studio. The impetus for this change had to do with safety – during a shoot my studio is dark – really, really dark – lit only from the modeling lights on the strobes [which provide not much more light than what you would have in a darkroom.] I do this so extraneous elements don’t show up in the various reflected materials. As a result of working in essentially a cave, I would often trip over the legs of the light stands. Since this is a working, creative space I could splat on a multitude of things on the floor such as broken plastic mirrors, scissors, lenses, black crates, models, etc. So I invested in a rail system where the lights are hanging from the ceiling. The result is much, much safer, instead of tripping over the lights I now bang my head into them – a significant improvement! The unintended benefit is that it is so incredibly easy to move the lights up and down, and side to side that I have been much more playful – always a good thing.
  2. The second reason for my growth in my use of light is that I started working with a new model, J., who is from Jamaica and has beautiful dark, dark skin. My other new model, R, is a lovely and expressive young woman of Filipino descent.
Untitled # 08-20-18-899

J.’s skin appears metallic – almost granite like in texture- with brilliant highlights dropping off to shadow very quickly, while R.’s lighter skin has a broader tonal range from highlights to shadows.

Untitled # 07-02-18-486

I have not had a regular female model for several years, so combining her with J. in a purely formal way has been a new direction this year.

Untitled #11-05-18-1079, 2018
Untitled #11-05-18-1079

Sometimes, like in the above image, Untitled #08-20-18-899, I get to work with two models, but when I only have one, the mannequins I began working with in 2016 continue to serve as superb stand-ins.

OPERA
Another area of growth for me in 2018 was my continuing love of opera and frequenting more productions. Opera is full of extreme emotions – jealousy, unrequited love, a love triangle and/or death, murder, sickness. There is nothing subtle in an opera plot. [BTW opera fans are just as enthusiastic as football fans, and almost as vocal!]
It seems that my devotion to opera manifests itself as RED in my work.

Untitled # 11-30-18-894

RED – seductive, visceral, angry and passionate, crept back into my work toward the end of 2018. RED can be both joy and agony, and passionate and visceral. More about RED in a later blog.

Untitled # 10-19-18-734
Untitled # 12-10-18-238

As with the last handful of years, 2018 included a significant amount of time spent in the studio and shooting on a consistent, regular basis. 77 shoots total, finding myself behind the camera an average of at least once a week. I have loved being able to devote so much time to looking through the lens, seeing new and exciting forms emerge from the same materials I’ve worked with for over 30 years, and I’m looking forward to what develops in 2019!

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

Plethora Magazine, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark, is a biannual publication that produces what one would consider more to be curated selections of fine art reproductions than a conventional magazine. The final format is a substantial 70x50cm (about 27.5 x 20″) portfolio of stunning prints, every issue being a beautiful work of art in and of itself. The production of each is just as remarkable, bordering on theatrical:

“Skillfully printed by the monks of a Hindu temple, Plethora Magazine pays homage to the unique qualities of artisanal printing tradition and offers a purist vision for the future expression of the printed magazine – along with a quiet ode to all things left behind by fast track digitization. No noise, no ads and no logos, just 52 pages of poster-size visual indulgence and tales from the life less ordinary presented in a careful blend of quirky archive material, wondrous art prints and contemporary artist features.” (– from the website)

I am truly honored to be featured in Plethora’s impressive Issue #7, curated around the theme of “Automation”. Completely relevant to so many of my latest mirror work images, the collection in this issue deals with fragmentation of the human body image, notions of a mechanized humanity, and investigates the once-sci-fi-but-now-very-real potential of artificial consciousness.

I love the images selected to be featured in this context by the magazine, and the finished product is simply stunning. Please be sure to check them out at their website, and/or find them on the Facebook here!

As the President of the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund, I could not be more proud nor impressed with how far the Baker Artist Awards have come in the past 10 years! It’s hard to express what a privilege it has been to be so involved with the Baltimore artist community through such a wonderfully transformative platform, to see how immersed it has become within the community, the connections it has fostered, and the lives it has changed.

Every year I look forward to my chat with Rhea, my dear friend, on the MPT ArtWorks program as we announce the winners of the awards.

Above is the 2018 episode as it aired on May 18th, fast forwarded to my interview with Rhea, but be sure to watch the entire segment either here or on the MPT website to see this year’s amazing and well deserving artist awardees!

Untitled #11-21-17-412

Here are a couple of thoughts about 2017 and how to make sense of it. I am NOT going to expound about the state of the world and the hideous political situation we are in. Instead I am going to talk about a subject that I love – my photographs and how they have changed in the course of the year.

The year started off with a big bang which never let up! I shot more images in 2017 than ever before in my life. Of course, not dealing with film and processing makes a HUGE difference, but that is not all. As I look in the rearview mirror I see that not only am I over the hill,  but halfway down the other side!  Instead of slowing down however, I have sped up.

In 2017 I had 88 different shoots – which translates to 1.7 shoots a week for 52 weeks or .25 shoots a day for 365 days.

To show how my work has changed over the last year I have divided the year in two parts; pre and post my Vatican visit.

Pre-Vatican

Untitled #05-01-17-819
Untitled #05-01-17-819

Emphasizing the edges and scratched surface of  the mirror lends a shattered feel to my Pre-Vatican images such as in Untitled #05-01-17-819. A large triangular shard cuts into the frail, broken figure, making him appear thin and brittle. This shard, ending in a cracked point in his leg, implies fragility, uncertainty, pathos, and even hopelessness.

Post Vatican

The trip to Rome this fall had to include, of course, a chance to worship at the feet of one of the greatest geniuses of all time – Michelangelo. For more on my trip to the Vatican see Blog Post Want a lesson in how to ruin brilliance?

Michelangelo did not let me down. From despair to rapture, the expansive expression in his paintings at the Sistine Chapel,  stunningly depict the extremes of the human condition – and he did all of this within the framework of Christianity.  As a non–Christian it was easy for me to ignore the religious overtones and contemplate the momentous figures sculpted out of paint.

Back in my studio I studied the dark, grim figures on the wall.  I loved them (still do) but I wanted a shift – to what, I did not know. The shape of the mirrors has been my major concern for the last couple of years, which means emphasizing sharp edges, breaks, points and cracks. But with a minor change in focus I made a MAJOR shift in seeing!    I moved my focus from the surface and edge of the mirror to the figures. The mirrors are still defining the forms, but without the  cracks, scratches and marks on the surface I began to explore  lines and forms.   Ask anyone who has ever studied with me – I LOVE LINES AND FORMS!

Untitled #11-21-17-412
Untitled #11-21-17-412

 

Untitled #11-10-17-185
Untitled #11-10-17-185

Untitled #12-22-17-423

Without faces and heads the work becomes less psychological and more gestural reminding me of images I have made in the hot tub through the years.

 

Untitled #4442
Untitled #4442 1992

 

Untitled #11159
Untitled #11159 2006

 

When I started this journey in 1983 I had no idea that in 2018 I would still be on it. As I look back I don’t see  a straight path, but rather a spiral where I periodically come back to similar visual concerns.  The first time I explored the form of the body (eliminating the head and face) was in 1992, I picked up on it again 14 years later in 2006.  12 years later I am once again concerned with the forms and lines of the body but this time I am doing it, not in a hot tub, but in a studio with mirrors.