All of my work is strongly influenced by natural history dioramas, cabinets of curiosity, still life painting and other manifestations of humankind’s attempt to categorize, comprehend and ultimately control the natural world. My photographs are informed by my studies in art history and my love of nature. I am an avid gardener, wanderer, and collector of bones, shells, seed pods and other ephemera.
I have long been seduced by the beauty of classical floral still life paintings. The works of Clara Peeters, Rachel Ruysch and Jan Van Huysum (among others) celebrate each bloom while reminding viewers of impending wilt. As a gardener, I love to wander my yard and the surrounding fields, picking as many blooms as I can hold and then arranging them into over-the-top bouquets. I have long been tempted to photograph the endless bouquets I create each summer. For many years, I rejected this idea as too cliche and perhaps too “easy”. Recent world events- both political and environmental - leave me craving every bit of beauty I can find around me.
On Ripeness and Rot & The Laid Table
These images are a very personal meditation on beauty, fecundity, fragility and the inevitable march of time. The visual language of these images is borrowed from classical Dutch still life painting. In these paintings flowers, fruit and flesh are represented in varying states of ripeness and decay. These paintings serve as both a celebration of beauty and a reminder of the inevitability of death. They are simultaneously seductive and grotesque. The materials used in my images are all culled from my surroundings. The flowers and vegetables are from my garden. The animals and birds are all road kill found close to my New Jersey home. The fleeting nature of my subject matter requires me to work only with what is available on any given day.
The images in this series represent a personal cabinet of curiosities. Unlike earlier naturalists who dried, pickled or mounted their specimens, my finds are preserved through photography. The items depicted include road kill animals; flowers, vegetables and insects from my garden; dishes and household objects. The flora and fauna found in these images are all common in suburbia. As I collect these items, I arrange them into ephemeral constructions and photograph them in bright even light. The clean white backgrounds signify both the clinical eye of science and the suburban perfection of a Martha Stewart Magazine spread. The square panels may be arranged in a neat grid reminiscent of shelves or drawers. Much like the earliest cabinets, the taxonomy of this collection is more whimsical than scientific. Ultimately, they are a reflection of the often uncomfortable relationship between humans and nature in American suburbia.
The photographs in this series pay homage to traditional still life painting while underscoring the inherent tension between humans and nature. While traditional Vanitas paintings refer to the futility of earthly pleasure, the photographs in this series question the consequences of our domestic comforts. Sixteenth and Seventeenth century still lifes often combined domestic objects with items from foreign locales; the content of my photographs are found much closer to home. The objects in these photos include personal possessions, flowers and vegetables from my garden, and birds and animals found by the roadside. As I collect these items, I arrange them into temporary displays that are simultaneously whimsical and grotesque. While these images are inspired conceptually by the Vanitas tradition, formally they are more akin to the glossy home and style magazines ubiquitously present in grocery store check-out aisles. These idiosyncratic arrangements highlight both the promise of suburban comfort and the aftermath of our continued consumption.