Deb Stoner: More Pictures About Flowers and Bugs
In this era of closed spaces and limited or no access to art on the walls, what better than to have your photographs wrap an entire building, bringing beauty and Spring to all who pass by. Artist Deb Stoner opened the exhibition, More Pictures About Flowers and Bugs which takes place on both the inside and the outside of the Palos Verdes Art Center, in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The inside installation runs through April 18th, and the outside, through 2020. More Pictures About Flowers and Bugs includes nine large scale archival pigment prints in a solo exhibition, accompanied by a handmade portfolio “Channeling Karl Blossfeldt” featuring black and white work.Her stunning capture of botanicals and the creatures that live within them wrap an entire building, creating a remarkable architectural camouflage and new way of appreciating photography.
Deb Stoner is a Portland, Oregon artist with deep roots in craft, as well as fine art photography. She is a proud student of the California Public School System from K12 to an MFA in Applied Design from San Diego State University, and a BS in Geology from UC Davis. Before its closing in 2019, Deb taught for three decades at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She shows work in galleries as well as permanent public art collections, lectures widely, is the recipient of grants and artist residencies, and sells work to enthusiastic collectors.
More Pictures About Flowers and Bugs
In 2019, I won a competition to wrap the exterior of the non-profit Palos Verdes Art Center with my still life photographs printed on vinyl, now on view through 2020. The challenge of making my work engage the enormous three-dimensional space was transformative in my overall conception of what my work can be. Working with the placement of images to the flat planes of the blocky exterior walls became a way to engage the viewer’s perception of distance. The opportunity has given me an expanded understanding of how my work might fit into public art, connecting spaces visually and conceptually in ways that photography might not usually be considered. Seeing the highly magnified details revealed on the exterior of the building is thrilling!
In this increasingly anxious world, my work grounds me, giving me at least an illusion of being in control if only on the 8.5” x 11.7” scanner glass on which I compose. I make high resolution still life photographs of natural objects that tell a simple story of beauty. The scanner is uncomplicated tool that allows me to mix traditional photography expertise with contemporary digital technology. The scale of the objects I photograph is especially exciting when it introduces confusion with no digital trickery: there are summer days in a garden when a watermelon, picked when very young, is the same size as a grasshopper. Drawn to imperfections in natural objects that point to their lack of artifice, I pay attention to these phenomenal and ephemeral events and make images with them in real-time.
Scale of the images that I print is important to me in determining the finished object’s nature, whether they become large framed archival pigment prints, or smaller editioned prints housed in my handmade portfolio boxes. As an artist with a long background in craft, it’s important to me that the photographs are carefully considered objects. And now, the object might be a building. Interesting.
New works are a continuation of my ongoing series called “A Year in the Willamette Valley”, a reference to place and the time-based nature of my work over the past 8 years. Although intrigued and informed by the work of 16th century European floral still life painters, current work is inspired by dramatic dioramas in natural history museums. Working in makeshift spaces such as the seed collecting room at OSU’s Vegetable Breeding Program, to a historic bungalow overlooking the Pacific Ocean, to a mobile studio made from a 1952 vintage trailer delights me as the resulting work evolves. Time in wild nature is an essential component for me to learn, observe and find the stuff that comprises my art work. This time of isolation during springtime in Oregon where lush flora outside constantly beckons is confusing, but helpful in sorting out my priorities. It’s a beautiful world out there. Be safe, and I hope you can find a way to appreciate it. – Deb Stoner
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