My apologies for not posting last week. My hometown, Elmira, NY, was struck by an F1 tornado last Thursday afternoon. This is most certainly not a common event for our area. The damage was widespread around the city. Many trees were literally twisted off or uprooted from the ground. I rode out the tornado in my basement studio, beneath one of my studio tables. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit terrified for about five minutes. Fortunately and amazingly there was no loss of life, although 16 homes are no longer fit for habitation. I had no power, Internet or electronic devices for a period of several days, thus no blog post. Unfortunately this also meant that I couldn't work in my studio once I had exhausted the charge in my two laptops. Now, I'm a little behind in preparing for my next show. Because I am behind, my studio is a whirl of it's own "creative tornatic activity". I have several pieces to finish. Needless to say it will be a nose to the grindstone kind of week for me. The piece at the left is one I finished today. It's title is In Rapunzel's Tower © 2012. It is another work in my Sticks, Stones and Bits of Bone Series. I really enjoy the contrast of texture in this work as well as the very balanced composition. Some pieces feel very satisfying when completed. This piece gives me that contentment. What does this piece evoke for you?
Yesterday was a fun filled day checking out the local arts scene. I began my day at the annual Hammondsport Art Show. The Keuka Lake Art Association holds its Annual Art Show every July in the village square in beautiful Hammondsport, New York in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. There were plenty of artists there and lots to look at. My second stop was at Beulahland for 61 Hours of Art. It's the best backyard art party ever in the town of Thurston, NY. Hosted by Jennifer Fais (in honor of her 61st birthday), Amelia Harnas and Noel Sylvester, one could participate in making art. I personally helped to construct a hopefully world record breaking God's Eye and used a pink bee bee gun to shoot up a bunch of aluminum cans which became part of a kinetic sound sculpture. Fun stuff and amazingly satisfying. Last stop was Elmira's Annual Street Painting Festival sponsored by Elmira Downtown Development. Artists took to the streets to create some amazing chalk art. There was live music and everyone seemed to be having a great time there. So what does any of that have to do with my frustrated sculpture thought? Well.................. All of that art viewing and activity made me anxious to get to my studio. I have quite a few shows coming up and I need to get into "crank out some art" mode.
Last night the latest frenzy began with creating some small sculptural items that will actually become subject matter in my work. The five little ladders above are the result of last night's efforts. I have been obsessed with ladder images lately and I decided to incorporate some into my work. You see, ladders are rich in symbolism and I love symbolism. Symbolically, The Ladder is a connection between the world of matter below with the domain of Spirit above. It symbolizes the spiritual stairway which enables a Seeker or Initiate to ascend to higher realms of consciousness. Climbing a ladder may symbolize progress: improving your status; achieving or moving towards a goal. The rungs on a ladder represent levels in a hierarchy, and so can symbolise levels of spiritual awareness. A ladder may indicate communication between levels, or ascension to a higher spiritual plane. Or more simply, a ladder might be used to symbolize a transition involving effort.
Of course in Scanography, the subject has to fit on the scanner bed. That means I needed to find or make some teeny-tiny ladders. Lately I've been using a lot of sticks in my images so I decided to lash some together and build some very imperfect, but nevertheless useful, little ladders. I decided to make five so that I would have a variety of sizes and positions to work with. One has some broken rungs which were not broken on purpose but may actually end up working well for one of my ideas.
So, as you can see, building the sculptural parts of my subject, has become part of my process. I think this is where my Andy Goldsworthy influences express themselves. Goldsworthy is a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist living in Scotland who produces site-specific sculpture and land art situated in natural and urban settings. His art involves the use of natural and found objects to create both temporary and permanent sculptures which draw out the character of their environment. While his work is very different from mine, we do have a few things in common. I am finding a great deal of pleasure in building these tiny sculptural parts for my work and I suspect this part of my process is bound to grow.
I practice an art form known as Scanography. This of course is not exactly a common term and it generally conjures up thoughts of medical imaging, not fine art processes. So what exactly is Scanography?. The short answer is Scanner Photography. The long answer is what follows here.
Scanography or Scanner Photography is the process of capturing images using a flatbed scanner with a CCD (charge-coupled device) array capturing device. Although technically considered to be a subgroup of traditional photography, Scanography differs greatly in process and appearance. There are essentially two types of scanners commonly found on the market: document scanners and photographic scanners. For Scanography, a photographic "flatbed" scanner is required. Fine art Scanography differs greatly from traditional document scanning. The subject (which can be 2D or 3D) is laid upon the glass platen and an image is made from that item or items. I scan objects (usually altered natural objects) to create my works. In this approach, the lid remains open, although light can be blocked using cloth or simply by darkening a room. Scanography also differs from standard photography, due to the nature of the scanner's operation. Instead of a single lens, the entire mechanism (mirrors, lens, filter and CCD array) make up the scan head. The process records extremely fine detail with a rather shallow depth of field and produces a high, optical resolution, digital file (or "digital negative") for printmaking.
Fine art Scanography requires a much broader skill-set than just basic scanner operation. To create works of art one must often use devices to secure subjects into place. I use a variety of these devices including but not limited to scientific clip stands, weights, tape, suspended string, wire.....I think you get the idea. Composition is tricky because you have to imagine that you are actually laying beneath the glass platen looking up at your subject. It requires a certain ability to imagine the subject from that angle and create the vision by building it from front to back in layers. It takes a great deal of patience and ingenuity at times. Subjects are limited by the size of the scanner platen and the actual cumulative weight of the objects. Knowledge of image resolution is an absolute must in order to produce pin sharp images that are able to be reproduced at the desired size. It is also necessary to be able to use image editing software with precision. I use Adobe Photoshop as a digital darkroom to edit and manipulate my images. Sometimes my images are formed from a single scan but often the images reflect a composite of several scans. This is particularly true when I juxtapose items that differ greatly in scale.
The art of Scanography is relatively new. Some early artists in the field worked with photocopiers in the late 60s to capture and print in a single step, resulting in the field of Xerox art which is considered to have proceeded Scanography. Early artists include Harold Feinstein, Joseph Scheer, Darryl Curran, Ruth Adams, Stephen Althouse, Christa Kreeger Bowden, Valerie
Mendoza, J. Seeley, Rhona Shand and Maggie Taylor.
As an artist, many people often tell me that they would like to start buying art and/or start an art collection. However in the course of the conversation, these same people often confide that they feel too intimidated in a gallery situation to ask questions about buying art. Often when pressed, these otherwise very educated people, express concerns that they don't know enough about art to buy art. The transformation from art appreciator into the realm of art collector may in fact seem quite scary, but it can be a very exciting and satisfying path. I have a small, eclectic collection of art by a variety of artists that I have acquired over the past 30 years. I bought my first piece in college. My most recent acquisition was made as a supporter of an artist's Kickstarter project. I currently own 36 works by 27 artists. Each one was acquired slowly and thoughtfully. This small collection includes paintings, drawings, hand-made paper, photography, sculpture, glass art, ceramics and one of a kind jewelry pieces. Each piece speaks to me. Most pieces are small and were very affordable. Most importantly, each piece has particular meaning to me. Some were purchased while traveling but most were acquired in my own diverse, regional art community. I acquired them because I loved them and being surrounded by those works brings a certain type of happiness into my life.
An art collection begins with a single purchase and will grow at its own pace. Visiting small galleries in your own community can be a great place to begin. These galleries periodically host art "openings" where you can view the latest exhibitions, meet the artist, hear a short presentation about the work and mingle with other guests over a glass of wine and hors d'oeuvres. These free social events give those new to art appreciation and art buying a way to learn about works without feeling intimidated. You will quickly find that one doesn't have to have vast riches to afford art that moves you. Choose pieces by artists that interest you and pieces that you will enjoy living with. If you want to know more about the artist of a work you are interested in, ask the gallery owner questions about the artist. Sometimes the gallery owner can arrange for you to see other works by the same artist or can arrange a studio tour for you. Many artists, including this one, are happy to answer any questions you have about their work and welcome your curiosity. If price is what intimidates you, most galleries will also arrange a payment plan so you can make your purchase over time.
I encourage all of you to consider making that leap from art appreciator to art collector. In doing so you will open the door to surrounding yourself with objects that hold unique and particular meaning to you. You will create personality in your living space. And, by doing so you will also support the arts in a meaningful and purposeful way.
Here it is! A refreshed version of debbvandelinder.com and a new blog to go with it. As you can see, the look of the site has a completely different feel to reflect more current web design trends. I'll admit the changes had been a long time coming. This new version of everything is much more user friendly which translates to me being able to keep the site much more current, post new work more often and stay connected with social media. Being an artist in this century requires a whole new approach to staying connected with an audience. I hope my audience will enjoy this new approach. Here we go!
Debb VanDelinder is an artist working in Scanography (scanner photography)