Aug 17, 2005

Making believe – Surreal at the Griffin, evidentiary at the Fogg

Images by Maggie Taylor

Source: The Boston Phoenix Written By Christopher Millis

Maggie Taylor: Then Again” + “John Chervinsky: CaCO3″
Griffin Museum of Photography | 67 Shore Road, Winchester | Through September 10

A New Kind of Historical Evidence: Photographs from the Carpenter Center Collection
Fogg Art Museum | Harvard University, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge | Through October 30

Magical realism in the tradition of Maxfield Parrish’s book illustrations and Robert Parke-Harrison’s photography is the domain of Maggie Taylor’s imagery in “Then Again,” her quirky and often satisfying exhibit at the Griffin Museum. Headless rocking-horse riders, women who sprout bouquets from their scalps, ballerinas in full costume in an open field surrounded by rats — these charge Taylor’s pictures with a hard-to-pinpoint emotional energy. Her muted colors and antiquated forms recall the early years of hand-colored photographs.

In Turning (2001), we see the back of a handsomely coiffed woman in a splendid, gold-colored Victorian dress. Her face in profile turns stiffly to the right; her lips clench so tight, it’s as though she’d just been slapped. From two dark vertical incisions on the back of her dress, giant moth wings emerge in a complementary gold hue. The grafting of insect body onto human body makes a funny sort of sense: given her garb and her withdrawn, injured attitude, is it any wonder that she’s mutated into something unreal? Fragile (2003) shows us a red-cheeked boy pulling at a little black string that neatly unhinges the top of his head. Where blood and bone ought to spill out, clouds rise up from his exposed cranium, whose interior reveals a perfect sky-blue disk. The merciless intensity of the boy’s gaze makes the mechanical self-scalping feel downright reasonable. His face tells us that his mind is ready to explode.

It’s to the credit of the Griffin Museum, whose mission is the showcasing of historic and contemporary photography, that it would host Maggie Taylor at all, since her works are actually digital collages. And in part that’s how she achieves her realism: she places directly onto a flatbed scanner the objects that occupy her frames — birds, moth wings, bees, daguerreotypes — and then manipulates them in Photoshop. Whether that places her at the frontier of photography or at the center of an emerging medium hardly matters.

Read the entire review

About Maggie Taylor (from her web site)
Maggie Taylor was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1961, and graduated from Yale University in 1983 with a BA in philosophy. In 1987 she received an MFA in photography from the University of Florida. During this time her work evolved from black-and-white suburban landscapes to more personal and narrative color still-life imagery. Using an old 4×5 view camera and natural light, she photographed bits and pieces of the everyday: old toys, broken bottles, and animals from the garden. Since 1987 her still-life photographs have been exhibited in more that 60 one-person exhibitions throughout the U.S. In 1996 and 2001 she received State of Florida Individual Artist’s Fellowships. Her current images explore the use of a computer and a flatbed scanner in place of a camera. By placing objects directly on the glass top of the scanner she is able to create a unique type of digital image which has some photographic qualities.

Taylor’s work is in the collections of The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; The Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ; The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; Musee de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Museet For Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; NationsBank, Charlotte, NC; and the Prudential Insurance Company, Newark, NJ, among others.

Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor’s Landscape of Dreams
By Amy Standen.
Published by Adobe Press.

Book Description
Maggie Taylor’s digital photo collages have been described as a contemporary exploration of the Surrealist world view. In Taylor’s strange, parallel universe, birds ride bicycles, ideas materialize in the shape of clouds, and wings sprout from the backs of prim Victorian women. Starting with objects that she finds on eBay, in flea markets, and in her own surroundings, Taylor then uses her flatbed scanner, Adobe Photoshop, and an Iris printer, to produce images of surprising beauty and emotional impact.

Adobe Photoshop Master Class: Maggie Taylor’s Landscape of Dreams offers a close and richly illustrated examination of Taylor’s practice, tracing her images from inspiration through execution. Taylor explains her influences, both in art and in her own life, and takes the reader inside the making of some of her intriguing, painterly work. Along the way, we hear from respected artists and critics familiar with Taylor’s work, and from the artist herself, in conversation with the author.

Illustrated with more than 65 color plates, Landscape of Dreams is essential reading (and viewing) for all those interested in applying technology to a creative personal vision.

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