My response to our latest photo challenge was a look at my continuing fascination with life and death.
Like Kristina I went down a couple of false starts before I found the right path for this challenge. As many of you know I am a little obsessed with the Chima line of mini figures so I wanted this project to somehow be about them. I’m fascinated by our infinite capacity to anthropomorphize just about anything. Just look at the success of any Pixar movie as proof. My first thought was to contrast real animals with the Chima animals; I wanted to play with the concept of real vs. fake. But I quickly realized how impractical these ideas were given the time constraints of this challenge. The images I saw in my head (a lone feather bathed in the fading light of a setting sun, mud outlining the foot print of a wild animal) were not anything I was going to come up with in the next several weeks. These ideas, while appealing, are on hold for the moment.
My next idea was contrasting details of Lego accessories with images that contain them. This is not too different from what Kristina did, but without the wonderful allegory to support it. Not only am I not a good enough macro photographer to pull this one off, but I didn’t like how the accessories just lie there, lifeless, when I look at them through my lens.
As I was wandering around Magnuson Park last week looking for interesting photo locations based on light, this challenge finally came together for me. If any one has noticed I’m also obsessed with photographing the Lego skeletons. This really came together for me when I put the custom skulls on them created by Crazybricks.com. I like the combination of reality and Lego stylization so much that I keep coming back to them. They are one of my red threads.
I’m drawn to the skeletons the same way I am drawn to the Chima figures. They represent something fundamental for me and they allow me a way to explore my own unavoidable death while I’m still very much enjoying life. The images I present to you here are a little taste of a series I’m presently pursuing. I want to pair images of Chima characters edited to seem like images from the past, a memory so to speak, while the colorful image of a skeleton, representing the vibrant present.
I’m grateful to this challenge because again it has made me think about my work in new ways. In 2015 I had the experience (and privilege) of presenting my work in a gallery setting. This experience has made me very aware that I need to have some ideas underlying my work. There needs to be a story; the image needs to be exploring a universal truth, or reflecting on the human condition, commenting on the world we live in or reinterpreting some aspect of art history. These are the realities of presenting your work in a gallery setting and talking to potential buyers.
I know this isn’t important to the majority of people who play on social media, but for me, a life long artist, I can’t turn my back on my roots. I’m grateful to these photo challenges, as well as to the inspiration Kristina has given me, that has allowed me to take the next step on this personal road of artistic growth.
Growth and change is a necessary part of being an artist. This can take the shape of trying new techniques like the path that Captain Kaos is on or it can be more subtle like questioning simple things, like the titles of an image as Balakov is doing, pushing the boundaries of still life photography like Kristina or reinterpreting travel photography like Boris. If you’re here reading Stuck in Plastic, I know that like us, you’re on your own path of artistic growth and we’re here to support and inspire you.