The Camera Obscured IV: Mixed Media Photography
For more than five years, Elizabeth Ernst has been photographing old toys which are torn, cracked or weathered due to neglect and time, creating unnerving portraits which reflect the artists exploration about the effects of aging on ones body. In her newest series, Tails from the Woods, Ernst continues working with toys from her childhood, creating fairytales about stuffed animals, gnomes and fairies who hide within the landscape, peering through the dense foliage. Finding inspiration from such notable stories as Thumbelina and The Ugly Duckling, Ernst introduces us to a group of animals living in mainstream society. In her tale, animals are both regal and ordinary, ominous and bashful, always protective of the children they encounter. Through these characters and their adventures, Ernst continues to address issues of identity, beauty and aging.
Working with 19th century printing processes, Dan Estabrook creates seemingly anonymous photographs which both obscure meaning and expose truth. His images of highly personal objects hide and reveal his inner secrets and stories, uncovering universal truths and questions. Much of his inspiration comes from old medical texts which contain tipped-in prints of bodies slowly fading into acidic paper. In Estabrook’s art, a face in profile riddled with blemishes transforms an angelic silhouette into one of circumspection; the graceful lines of a woman’s body fades into the paper becoming both a distant memory and evidence of loss. These are introspective images which challenge the viewers perception of truth.
For more than ten years, Dan Ragland has been creating psychological self-portraits, tapping into his dreams and fears, transforming himself with the expertise of a chameleon. His new works continue to look inward, as isolated figures, eyes closed, appear to float within the frames. These contained portraits are both comforting and haunting, restrained yet vulnerable. The head of a woman rests on white chiffon, emerging from blackness; A man in profile stares outwards, his face disappearing into the air, becoming an apparition. It is this duality that Ragland’s new work seeks to explore -- to present pieces which are tempting yet dangerous, revealing untold narratives for the viewer to construct.
New to the exhibition is Peggy Shaw, whose photographic collages explore the moments between reality and imagination when everything appears veiled yet remains lucid. Through this visual haze, tactile objects and photographs drift between physical and spiritual existence. Shaw gathers twigs, wires, thorns, eggshells and bird nests, juxtaposing them with transparent film images of figures and animals, creating a place of introspection and calm. A translucent photograph of a woman floating in water is placed above a flower, strand of hair and seed pod. By collaging physical objects with ethereal images, Shaw allows the figures and symbols to shift between the real and the imagined, resting comfortably in the middle.