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Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

troughmay30

the completed trough

Nope, that is not the opening to one of my fairly gentle political posts. Just breathe. Those are the words I repeat to myself the night before I attempt to set up my first installation for the exhibit Peace: Cutting through Turmoil. My contribution to the show I guess I can say is a three dimensional representation of my artistic and emotional experiences after chancing upon 1930’s Federal Writers’ Project slave narratives in the public library, and then later reading more narratives online. It was a short paragraph that set me on this path, a recount of childhood memories of eating from a trough with a mussel shell. Shells pulled from the branches …

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What I am creating is ephemeral. Paper, prints, words produced to physically be on display for a little less than a month. A contribution that I think will be part of a powerful whole when viewed in the company of the works by the other participants who have esteemed careers in the arts. I feel a bit like the new kid on the block. A little scary but freeing too.

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It will be an assemblage of pieces and parts, words and images, some culled from nature, some acquired collaboratively with the aid of friends. The least ephemeral of the whole is the trough. While he did let me hold a chisel or two, it was Steve who carved the trough for me using a fallen tree, and a pivotal tool, both shared by friends.

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Shared by friends. No matter what happens with this project it has been a wonderful collaborative effort. I was even able to involve one of my littlest friends, aged 9 and going on 21, who agreed to hold a mussel shell for me.

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Hmmm. What else is there to say? Before this night is done, I have a few more shells to drill holes in and string, and I still need to discuss with Steve how to hang … oops, I can’t tell you what I intend to hang or from what. At least not yet. Meanwhile, I just breathe. 🙂

Peace: Cutting through Turmoil

Brick Bottom Artists Gallery, Somerville, MA

Opening Reception Thursday June 8, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

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It is a unique collaboration of sorts, and not a collaboration that I will do with many people. But I think that Zoe Langosy and I have worked together for so many years in so many different ways, and always around the visual, that I trust her when she pulls me aside to show me something she’s tucked away because she saw it and thought of me and my photography.

No expectations around output just an instinct that this thing that she saw – a fallen leaf, a rock, and in this case a moth – might interest me and perhaps even empower me to stretch myself as a photographer using whatever tools I have at hand.

She likes to cut up my photography to use in her collage. I’m grateful that she finds whole objects to share with me in return.

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illustration by zoe langosy

illustration by zoe langosy

Pencil has met paper. Lines have been drawn. Soon images will be cut and painstakingly applied to a sensuous form. An original concept has evolved with the core idea the same — figures clothed by nature. My photography as the “fabric” in the hands of fashion illustrator Zoe Langosy.  Here’s a sneak peek at her current work in progress, a rendering of a Valentino dress to be collaged with three of my photos.

creative swatch by zoe langosy

creative swatch by zoe langosy

In her own words: What has surprised me about the evolution of this work is that the initial drawing was classical in its rendering in part because Valentino is so classical, his fashion prim and romantic.

illustration by zoe langosy

illustration by zoe langosy

But after the initial drawing which echoed that romantic sentiment, I lost interest and began a new drawing, one more dynamic and sensual. The wonderful challenge for me is to use the Valentino dress in a different way, to take this beautiful classical garment by a master designer, and render it with a darker edge that’s more inline with my own artistic style.

photo courtesy of zoe langosy

The artist is at work, ladies and gentlemen. Stay tuned for future updates. New to this story of a unique collaboration?  Read more here: a new year and new collaborations and here fashion plus nature equals

http://www.zoe.langosy.net/

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As artist Zoe Langosy and I move forward on a new collaboration, I follow her lead. And what a fabulous journey it is. I’m not the most stylish person on the block but even I know of Valentino, Alexander McQueen and a few other fashion makers out there. Zoe has introduced me to a part of the fashion world I knew little about, fashion illustration. It is amazing to me how an artist can translate the signature apparel of designers like Valentino into another medium that both promotes the original work of the designer and yet expresses the unique skills and vision of the illustrator. In this visual age there appears to be a renaissance taking place with regard to fashion illustration.  Many artists, many styles. Collage is Zoe’s medium of choice.

Creative Swatch by Zoe Langosy, pairing dress by Valentino with photographs by Cynthia Staples

I want her to write more about her creative process. How she can look at this dress by Valentino and then imagine collaging an illustration using my photos.  This is a creative swatch that she has put together to layout the pictures she intends to cut up. From top to bottom they are birch trees and grasses along the Mystic River, ice crystals on a window, and sunlight shining through an icicle.

Stay tuned for future updates!

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Kay Nielsen illustration for “The Story of a Mother” by Hans Christian Andersen

When I asked artist Zoe Langosy what she liked about this illustration by Kay Nielsen, she said, “I love the combination of nature and fashion that evokes a certain melancholy as well as beauty. A lone figure in a stark landscape, not unlike my own artwork as a fashion illustrator.  Decorative, yes, and through the decoration an emotion unveiled hinting at love, romance and most of all loss.” We weren’t sure at the time what story this work illustrated but even so “without any words embedded in the imagery is clearly a story.”  The viewing of this illustration has sparked a new collaboration — Zoe illustrating fashion collections using my nature images as part of her collage work.  Remember the Geishas? 😉

The Nielsen illustration was shared by friend, Donna Stenwall.  Donna, a former New England Regional Manager for Laura Ashley, remarked that she was drawn to the image because she has always loved winter scenes.  “This image looked so stormy, so desolate, and yet it was delicate and breathtakingly beautiful.  I was reminded of animation in the inherent motion on the page, this delicate female form, so dark in the white landscape with just a hint of caramel in her hair. Rather reminiscent of Zoe’s work.”

As we discussed collaboration, I shared with Zoe this image of evening light falling on marsh grasses. She didn’t react with her usual, “I can’t wait to cut this up!” Instead, she said, with raised eyebrow, “Can’t you imagine this as a Valentino wedding dress?” I can’t but she can and that’s the beauty of collaborating with this amazing artist. Stay tuned for updates on our progress!

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A friend recently asked me to photograph her moonstones.  As I wrapped up my photo shoot, I decided to submerge one of the stones in a glass of tap water.  That’s all that is … a rock beneath water.

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Spring/Summer Geisha, artwork by Zoe Langosy

Spring/Summer Geisha, artwork by Zoe Langosy

I feel like I was just complaining about how long the winter was and now spring is easing into summer.  That’s all the excuse I need to share this post from the past — Embodying Nature Through Collage — about a collaboration with artist Zoe Langosy who is one of the few people in the world encouraged to cut up my photos because she incorporates the pieces into such beauty, like this Spring/Summer Geisha.  Have a good weekend, folks, and here’s to having a good summer. 😉

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“I brought you something,” is what Zoe  said as she reached into her bag.  “An apple.”  A healthy snack.  How lovely, I thought as I glanced at the fruit.  As I looked closer, I could not help but exclaim, “Wow, it is like a sunset held in your hand!”  And what did she say?

She said, “Ha!  I knew you’d see it.  I picked it up and turned it around and knew you would see that landscape.  Your challenge is to photograph it!”  My stomach grumbled just a bit.  “You mean I can’t eat it?”

“Of course you can, ” she said, turning away.  “As soon as you figure out how to capture what you’re seeing.  That’s all.”

I must say it was a bit maddening that day to travel home hoping I didn’t bruise the landscape.  Did I capture it?  I don’t know but I sure had fun trying.  As I post these pictures, the landscape has been consumed.  It was a tasty artistic adventure.  I look forward to future challenges. 😉

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… but i am happy to be home. Plus we returned just in time to attend a book festival in Boston. No books were bought but I did have the pleasure of meeting some of the people behind 21st Editions, The Art of the Book.  As a press that uniquely marries fine art photography with poetry, it is my dream publisher.  They produce works primarily acquired by libraries and museums.  As I told one of the staff, the newsletter they send out to subscribers is quite inspiring. I’ve been especially fascinated by the short videos produced to highlight upcoming titles.  When asked what I liked about them, I shared that it was the audio element added to the mix of words and images.  Below is one of my favorites — images of 21st Editions books with a poem read by poet John Wood.  Enjoy.

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work in progress by artist Zoe Langosy with characters Coyote, Columbine and Harlequin

work in progress by artist Zoe Langosy with characters Coyote, Columbine and Harlequin

Standing silent in the presence of others, while a friend describes the essence of your work?  It can be an illuminating, humbling experience.  That is what happened to me as collage artist Zoe Langosy described what she saw in some of my photographs.  “There are notes of nostalgia.  I am attracted to cut up stuff that has that dark edge. Through her photography Cynthia captures those parts of nature many people don’t see likes cracks in the ice on a frozen pond or the beauty of a dying flower.  Her images can make you stop, feel and reflect.  In her work, as in my own, there is a reminder that there are two sides to life.  That in order to find balance, we sometimes have to suffer.  The sun rises but it also sets and as a part of that arc there’s the dark beauty to be found at twilight.”  Zoe is currently at work on new pieces for upcoming shows.  As always, I’m honored that she has selected one of my images to use in a collage, in this case birch trees photographed near sunset at the Blue Hills Reservation.  The sun-touched bark will help to create the light in Harlequin’s outfit.

Harlequin, Columbine and Coyote are recurring characters in Zoe’s portfolio, androgynous, melancholic and hauntingly beautiful.  The patchwork of Harlequin’s outfit will also include bits of Japanese paper in dark blue with silver details that reminds Zoe of “a moonlit field at night.”  In the end her patchwork will convey a sense that Harlequin is outfitted in nature.

work in progress by artist Zoe Langosy

work in progress by artist Zoe Langosy

Learn more about Zoe’s works in progress and upcoming exhibits by following her on Facebook.  FYI, she will have several of her original pieces on display during NYC Fashion Week in just a few weeks.  Prints of her work (and her father’s) are available on Etsy.  Enjoy.

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