ARTIST STATEMENT - PHOTOGRAMS
Karen Amy Finkel Fishof
By pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, I produce large scale, life size, one-of-a-kind photograms.
I stage scenes in the darkroom, posing people, objects, and text on the floor over photo paper. I then expose them to light and develop them traditionally. I love the creative process of these works, from the exposure to the development. The magic of seeing the image appear when the photo paper is placed in the chemistry, knowing it was a moment captured with no negative, and the anticipation in the darkroom of seeing how various objects live in the light and how light wraps around them, fascinates me. I then capture that living dance on 2D, still, photo paper. Unlike conventional photography, each piece is a one-of-a-kind, like a painting and bears a painterly feel.
I consider the process drawing with light. It provides strong narrative imagery, with hidden subtleties. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation by applying self-imposed strategic constraints to disrupt the histories and conventions of contemporary photography. The works are theatrical stills, each with its own story.
I am influenced by all artistic mediums including interior design, film, music, fashion, and social media. I've worked in all these areas professionally and draw from their current trends. Inspiration may come from current events, personal experiences or from found objects. Creating photograms allows me to collage these areas together into one cohesive image statement.
Figures occupy not only a physical space, but a psychological and spiritual one as well. These narrative dramas, evoke a story for us to participate in, and invite us into their surreal, fantastic reality. The characters are firmly planted in their own distorted space. All persons and objects serve a double role. Not only are they instruments in imagery, but also declare a statement about the medium. We are forced to recognize a new aspect of the person or object touching the surface, the form itself.
There is something about facing a replica of life-sized human, to scale, that warrants our own personal reflection and bids the question; “What do I see of myself in this?”
There is a presence that remains of the figures, like when you see the handprints on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame". You know that the person had physical contact with the paper, unlike conventional photography or portraiture. Not only are the figures actors in a drama, but they are also portraits of the models and reflect their inherent personalities and physical features.
The work makes one cognizant of the relationship we have with objects. We almost always have an object in our hands, whether it be a phone, pen, cup, remote control, gun, bible, or flowers. We are dependent on them, and they define us.
The unorthodox use of materials frees photography from the rigidity of the past and informs part of the ongoing reconstruction of art history.
Recent photograms explore contemporary issues of the human spirit, defining my identity, confronting stereotypes, and moving between the secular and the sacred. The work engages the viewer to explore the definition of photography as well as examine their pre-existing ideas of the various content.
ARTIST STATEMENT - MOD WALL ART
Karen Amy Finkel Fishof
It's a funny thing when you're an artist and you finally get a wall large enough to hang one of your own works on. That's what happened to me when my husband and I purchased a house. For two years we sat looking at a blank wall over the sofa. I felt that none of the works I had done prior worked in the space, a space that I had decorated!
After seeking inspiration from various sources, it finally hit me. I had been creating such large scale, delicate art. The photograms require a truck to transport and expensive mounting of the photo paper to Sintra, an archival PVC board and then that gets mounted onto a wooden support frame. Beautiful in their own right, I had always thought of them as museum pieces. For my home (and to please my husband who loves color) I created Mod Wall Art.
At first I designed the entire piece in photoshop and then, working backwards, I hand painted 27 wooden hexagons. That would be the first and last hand painted pieces. My fabricator who has been mounting my photograms came to one of my shows where I was also displaying some hexagons. He told me he could encase them in museum grade acrylic. We worked together to get the fabrication just right and Mod Wall Art was born.
What's great about these pieces is that they can scale horizontally or vertically to fit any wall and still fit in a small space for transport. They look like floating glass. I've created hundreds of designs, incorporating various colors, patterns and themes as well as utilizing photos from nature, sports, music and the like. They can be created for bespoke, site-specific installations in any shape or size.
These works allow me to utilize my "found object" skills, while out and about I stop to capture an image as opposed to the photograms which are premeditated and staged.
The final works are of course carefully curated and the vault of images I have amassed and have at the ready, permits me to collage the best images together to obtain sensational results.
I'm also working on a film, an installation and a sculpture! Stay tuned!