Thursday, September 24, 2009

Maggie Taylor

Maggie Taylor is an artist I thoroughly enjoy. Her work plays along the side of fantasy, and is very similar to some of the work I originally intended to do this semester. Although I have changed my path, I have every bit of interest to fulfill the project next semester. The series of work from her that I am most familiar with is her Gentleman series.
This photo is called Garden ( 2005 ) I use to have this photo as my profile wall photo on myspace for ages. The image intrigues me. Visually it it has a sense of symmetry , and peace. Initially anyway.. Then when you actually see it for what it is, humans stuck into the ground head first it is unsettling. It can be interpreted multiple ways. Are they humans growing? Or are they dead? That common phrase, "Head in the ground" that is said of people who have lost all sense of themselves comes to mind.. The perfect stillness that they obvious have, a rigid stiff, dead presence, that would allow a bird to feel comfortable enough to sit there.. With no threat. The vivid colors on the foreground separate the background from the foreground with an eerie feeling when the images become focused on what they are, and not what they appear to be at first glance, a plant, a tree.. I get a feeling of early morning or late evening with a haze, I can almost feel the intense moisture that would be present in an environment like that..
This photo is called Twilight Swim ( 2004 ). This photo is disturbing, but slightly comical at the same time. On one hand, the girl is looking straight ahead at us, in a very confrontational way. But, her eyes seem distant. She looks like she has lost all sense.. Perhaps she has gone mad. She is swimming around with sharks in the evening light, alone, which could also be a sign of delusion for any normal person. The small detail in this photo that makes it go from frightening to humorous is the fish underwater, small in scale to the rest of the photo.. With shark fins attached to it. That one small detail makes you reassess the entire photo. She still comes across as crazy to me.. But in a different sense. The two fish she has wrapped around her neck are similar to the one in the water with the fins on it. Almost as though she is out there creating a scene for herself to marvel at. Not concerned about anyone watching or interfering. Or perhaps she does this in the evening and watches people scatter in the day time at they process these tiny fish as real potential for danger due to the attached fins. Her work has the fantasy feeling that makes my mind race with possibilities. The fact that they do have a magical or supernatural element, gives my imagination permission to wander with all sorts of angles to approach the image.
This piece is called Just Looking. The colors in this image draw me in before anything else. The way they are blended in at the top corners and around the square behind the creature, look like metal rusting or being corroded. And then to the right side in the middle behind the girl and beside the elevator, the brilliant small portion of blue. And of course the dominating black all over the creature. This black on such an unknown creature seems sinister. The sense of exposure from the stance of the human on display makes me uneasier for the poor girl. But, as far as the over all composition or message of the photo.. I have no take. Perhaps I am not suppose to have any idea what is going on. Perhaps the only thing I am suppose to receive from this photo is the sense of confusion it evokes in me. The slight tilt of the head I naturally slouch into when I look at it. I kind of enjoy the disorientation it creates in me. Almost allows me to believe in things beyond my own understanding and grasp.
This one I found off a google search under Maggie Taylor's name. I could almost swear that is is from her Almost Alice series, although I did not see it on her website under any category. This is identical to most of her work, so I feel fairly confident in citing it this way.
This image makes me think of Alice in Wonderland of course, because of the overgrown girl, the key in her hand, and the tiny door way opening to a garden.. However this image also speaks to me as a telling lesson of life. So often what we want is so close, but impossible to reach from where we are, the dispositions in life that we have. I feel sorry for the girl, because she is being teased with what she wants to much to be a part of, and she has no plan of how to join it.. How to get through the door and out into the beautiful garden that awaits, instead of the cramped dark and shabby room she stands in. It's moving in a peculiar way.

Her work is so close to my heart because it inspires the childhood imagination I carry around, that many of us carry around, that we suppress in our adult lives. Oddly enough, there is a quote from Alice in Wonderland that deals with this perfectly. Alice says, " One can't believe impossible things". The queen replies, " I dare say you haven't had much practice". I love this line because it goes to show us that we block out our imagination, or possibilities because of mental walls we put up ourselves against ourselves. It's lovely really.

Her images may not have words, but they speak loudly to me.


  1. Good. You have a wonderful way of writing about art. Very focused, smart and perceptive.

    Taylor's work is situated fairly squarely in the lineage that extends back to Dada and Surrealism (Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Hanna Hoch) and even earlier (Hieronymus Bosch). I even see some influence of Jerry Uelsman. The digital platform facilitates such juxtapositions and mash-ups.

    Your comment that you are sometimes not sure what exactly to make of the image hits the mark squarely. This work works on so many levels.. the lush colors, textures, almost story-book references. It also draws heavily from symbols and signs. The contradictions and double takes you rightly mention asks the viewer to draw from their own subconscious dream states to make sense of them. Its very provocative that way. I'd be very curious to see what you would be inclined to make, taking a cue from some of these strategies.

  2. Thank you, I'm glad to hear that. I try to look into it for more than a few passing seconds.. I'd like my work to be examined for more than a few seconds.. I think often times information is passed over that should be carefully investigated. That is true of many things in life.. I have this problem even more so with my first major which is video. People don't understand the work that goes into something, so they loose a lot of attention to detail.. They do not allow themselves to become attached enough to the image to drift to the end of the idea the artist was trying to take you to.

    I originally wanted to do my photo idea for film class. I wanted to take the images and do them manually instead of doing them on photoshop so that I could have many layers and many textures apparent in the work to make it seem even more imaginary.. However, I am beginning to consider merging the film and digital processes together to get this. I believe that for this upcoming project you have assigned us that my original intent to do it in film may work just as well in digital. So my idea hopefully will be visible for you at the end of this assignment.. I hope so anyway. I hope life pauses long enough for me the next few weeks in order to follow through in a timely fashion.