Katharine Keisher-Dream Desert
The Dream Desert installation was created for RioBravoFineArt as the focus of Katharine Kreisher's artist residency here mid-April through early July 2011. From Dream Desert
itself and her surroundings in Truth or Consequences, as well as during her cross-country drive to New Mexico, Katharine has been making new photographs, some of
which are displayed near the installation in the current solo show. Katharine will continue to make new photographic images until the exhibit closes on July 10th. Dream Desert was partially constructed upstairs in an experimental studio space at
Rio Bravo and then reinvented downstairs in the gallery for the exhibition. Dream Desert is the artist's response to her new environment, the natural and cultural surprises of the desert
community that continually amaze and inspire.
The artist arrived from New York with her old lace and satin ballgown, a costume she has worn for self-portrait work over many years.
Katharine wanted to work with the dress and other fabrics to create a desert fantasy that would be a starting point for new still life photographs. Seeing Delmas Howe's paintings of the folds in the desert
landscape gave her the idea to try folding canvas to create similar undulations in light and shadow. Viewing Turtleback Mountain (Caballo Cone) through the studio window everyday gave Katharine a specific
reference for the construction. And finally, working in a room filled with Joe Waldrum's dramatic abstract paintings of New Mexican buildings
inspired her in the most essential nourishing ways as if she absorbed some of his creative spirit. In fact, with Eduardo's permission, she
placed Joe himself within the installation in the form of a miniature bronze sculpture by Sonny Rivera.
Of the Desert Dream installation the artist wrote:
"Myths, archetypes and dream images derived from the unconscious have always fed this artist's creative process. The desert is fiercely beautiful, full of fearful contradictions and
startling transformations. Like my female archetypes pictured in three large self-portraits made at a healing sulfur spring in Sharon Springs, New York, Dream Desert is
meant to connect the landscape to the human body, to personify its contours, to locate the watery resources that often live underground, to discover liminal moments and the sometimes
amusing characters who inhabit the ritual desert spaces of each mind. "
Artist's Statement – Katharine Kreisher:
For years all my images began with
photogra phy. Over several decades of art-making, I have altered photographic images of myself and my personal environment by layering paint on the surface, by transforming them through
traditional printmaking methods or collage, or by manipulating them digitally.
Cureent work about one's sense of self in the world is driven by archetypal images
derived from dream analysis and supported by the reinterpretation of everyday experience through meditation and yoga practice.
Images explore how we experience an on-going metamorphosis as our elusive, fragile constructed identities shift throughout life, and how the contemplation of
images emerging from the unconscious becomes a search for peace, both an individual peace of mind and also a universal peace.
Contemplating Peace Portfolio:
The original pictures for the Contemplating Peace diptychs are made outdoors through very long exposures (more than half an hour) in a large corrugated cardboard
pinhole camera that holds 11x14" fiber base photographic paper. I participate in the extended exposure time by holding quiet yoga poses or meditating or simply watching
leaf shadows shift on the lawn. The time becomes a slow and fruitful contemplation of peace.
After chemical development, I
generously (or subtly) alter some of the paper negatives by drawing with Prismacolor pencils or painting with Marshal's photo oils. Then I scan the painted pinhole photographs to my
computer for further manipulation in Photoshop. Recently I have begun to work with digital pinhole, and also I sometimes scan objects, adding new aspects to the on-going Contemplating Peace series.
In the computer I stack the image files in a tight diptych format creating tall, extended-frame digital prints. This vertical extension enhances meaning by referencing
dualities and hierarchies, and by suggesting either progressions or simultaneous events. Between frames comparisons can be made, narratives invented, real and
imagined worlds linked. In some images the device works to extend the observable visual space, while in others quite separate spaces (perhaps internal and external states of being) are implied.
Unidentified Woman series:
The series of collages entitled Unidentified Woman describes in part my
identity-altering experience of being run over by a tractor-trailer while driving on an interstate during a snowstorm. In one expanded 'instant,' I became "an unidentified woman" in our local
newspaper and an egoless entity dissolving in an infinite universe.
Sometimes we can see the future in a snapshot from the past. I chose a very
small section of a photograph of myself made by my friend Ron Richardson in 1973. I altered it in the computer, adding pixilated frozen tears to the cheeks, then
further transformed it by printing variations as polymer gravures. After the accident, I started a series of self-portrait collages about the event and my on-going
reactions to the experience, one which had propelled me to experience "instant nirvana." I tore and cut copies of my digitally altered face, then stapled and sewed
them together reconstituting the new "unidentified woman." While recovering from minor surgery related to the accident, I built on the collage project, and I continue to work on the series today.
A body of work from this Unidentified Woman series was selected by curator Colleen Kenyon at the Center for Photography at Woodstock NY to be part of "Once Upon a Time," an exhibit
centered on life-changing events, traumatic experience and how it changes one's art.