The photographs in the Mindscapes and Lilliputian Landscape series could be classified as still lifes. Preferring to create the image rather than discover it, I am more at home building a still life and photographing it rather than tramping the streets in search of the decisive moment. Cut out shapes, photographs I've taken previously, ribbons, paperweights, model train figures, toys, flowers, and food have all found their way into my images. Light, shadow and reflection shape the picture, not Photoshop or other computer tools.
Since I was a small child, I created my own private worlds with tiny toys and dolls. A vegetarian for over 40 years, I love all kinds of fruits and vegetables. And for several years I’ve been interested in macro photography. These passions merged about 12 years ago when I created a fanciful world for a tiny plastic pig by putting it on a "hill" of broccoli and photographed it with a macro lens. The miniature worlds became more elaborate when I discovered ¾” plastic people made for model train models. This marked the beginning of Lilliputian Landscapes: photographs of tabletop tableaus that I construct with food or common household objects. The tiny figures transform the scene into a world with a life of its own. Cauliflower becomes a snow-covered hill, a plate of grain is transformed into a beach, and a butternut squash turns into a construction site. I always create each scene entirely in front of the camera and do not use Photoshop or any other computer tool to construct the picture.
The photographs have evolved over the years with a new theme or subject each year. My first series was landscapes made entirely of fruit and vegetables and tiny figures. Then came sushi, Fiesta ware, flowers, technology, money, games, bubbles, ice and so on. Most recently I’ve been photographing tiny people on vintage objects and have been experimenting with natural elements and figures on a light box.
When I first started taking these photos I hadn’t heard of anyone else doing anything similar. But good ideas catch on fast and today I’m not the only one that takes photos of these plastic figures. It’s a lot of fun to create the tiny worlds and I love to hear people chuckle when they look at the photos and realize what they are seeing.
For the last few years I have been interested in the relationship between the conscious and subconscious mind. Neuroscientists believe that only 5-10% brain activity takes place in the conscious mind, while the remainder occurs in the subconscious. As a visual artist who relies on intuition, I find this idea intriguing.
A photograph by Abelardo Morell of a glass of water in front of a window, allowing the exterior to show through the glass upside down, inspired me to experiment. At first I photographed glass vessels and balls in front of windows. This evolved to creating photographs as backgrounds, printing them on translucent film, and placing them on a light box behind glass objects and personal artifacts assembled on a mirror. I intuitively arrange the objects until the image through the lens evokes thoughts and emotions that feel like they are coming from my subconscious. By focusing on the glass objects and leaving the background vague and hazy, the contrast between the sharply focused glass and the dreamy background becomes a metaphor for the conscious and subconscious mind.
I love to stare at the ocean and observe the ripples and reflections. The water is mesmerizing especially at the end of the day before the sun sets. In Gloucester, where I live, the harbor is full of working fishing boats. Their brightly colored hulls reflected in the water create beautiful abstract patterns, always moving and alive. Waterlines are snippets, glances, moments frozen in time of the always changing space where the boat touches the sea.
This series often memorializes an iconic building or neighborhood. I use the technique of blending an overall view of a neighborhood or building with a close-up view of the surrounding texture, to fully capture the essence of place. Many of the images are carried further by collaging pieces of the montaged photograph onto wood substrates and adding texture and other elements, creating one-of-a-kind mixed media pieces.